Tuesday, December 22, 2009

“That punk pulled a Glock 7 on me. You know what that is?”

Die Hard was awesome. More Die Hard should be a good thing, yes? 1990 thought so, moving John McClane back to the East Coast and a busy airport for the Holidays. Buckle up cowboy, because the sequel names only get crazier from here on. Its time to Die Hard 2: Die Harder.

John McClane is in Dulles Airport in D.C. for the holidays and waiting for his wife’s plane to land. Then some mercenary dudes take over an old Church near the airport, hack into the systems and demand the safe landing and release of the dictator of some Banana Republic who’s being brought to the U.S. to stand trial for drug trafficking (its about money, ultimately). Its up to John McClane to kicks some ass and call the local airport security guys all sorts of names before a bunch of planes circling the airport run out of fuel.

John McClane: Bruce Willis again, and this time he’s got shoes on. And a parka. And isn’t alone. Doesn’t help that much, since nobody in the airport is willing to believe that a terrorist (well, mercenary) attack is about to take place.

Holly McClane: Bonnie Bedelia is still McClane’s spitfire of a wife, only now she’s stuck on a plane that is circling the airport and running low on fuel. Still not a damsel in distress, she keeps her cool and gets some fun moments.

Richard Thornburg: William Atherton is back as the colossal douche reporter, only now he’s on the same plane as Holly, and he makes a point of letting everyone know that he has a restraining order against her and that it is unlawful for him to be sitting that close to him. Hilarity ensues.

General Ramon Esperanza: Franco Nero is the living Macguffin that the bad guys want. He’s a notorious drug lord, but he’s also an ardent foe of Communism in South America, and the mercs want to make sure he can still do that. Not much to the character himself, he’s pretty much your standard Fidel Castro-looking South American Dictator.

Colonel Stuart: William Sadler (who was great in Shawshank) is our Villain, and while he gets introduced in a hotel practicing martial arts in the nude (which is…weird), it turns out he’s a former U.S. Military guy with a decorated record and is apparently a hero. He’s also gone rogue with a bunch of military guys that include John Leguizamo and Robert “T-1000” Patrick. Ostensibly what he does is to support a dictator who’s stance is anti-Communism, but ultimately, its about the metric assloads of money he’d be getting from the guy in reward. He’s not a bad villain, really, but he’s kind of flat when compared to the magnificent bastard that is Hans Gruber.

Captain Carmine Lorenzo: Dennis Franz (yeah, that one) is the head of security at the airport and a major obstacle in John McClane getting any real saving the day done.

Major Grant: John Amos is the special forces commander sent by the government to deal with a rogue agent gone wrong. A big scary dude, he develops something of a grudging respect for McClane, but he and Stuart have some history together which plays a part.

Samantha “Sam” Coleman: the “good” reporter. She’s at the airport and trying to get a story, but gets the brush off from just about everybody.

And we get a small but very important cameo from Sgt. Al.

Renny Harlin, a Finnish director whose credits include Cliffhanger, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, and Cutthroat Island, goes big on the action sequences, which are frequent and continuously ramp up the absurdity until you’ve got the final explosion at the end which…well, doesn’t seem like the circumstances of that should be physically possible. Snow and nighttime dominate the visuals, which is appropriate. Still, there’s an energy missing that was present in McTiernan’s film.

Based on the novel "58 Minutes" by Walter Wager and adapted into a John McClane movie by Steven E. de Souza and Doug Richardson, the script and characters all work well. John’s still the lovable lug that he is and the interaction between Holly and Thornburg is great, but…I don’t know. Its still a lot of fun, but some of the plot elements feel really contrived, like the Glock 7 (which doesn’t actually exist) being a ceramic gun and that’s how it gets past security. I mean, even if the gun exterior would be ceramic, there would have to be metal bits like springs and whatnot within.

Michael Kamen brings another great soundtrack, but I didn’t notice all the subtle little cues that made Die Hard awesome musically. And of course we get some of that good ol’ Christmas music.

You know, its not as good. BUT, its not bad and is still a lot of fun. That about sums up my thoughts on Die Harder.

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