Combustible Celluloid
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With: Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, William Atherton, Reginald VelJohnson, Franco Nero, William Sadler, John Amos, Dennis Franz, Art Evans, Fred Dalton Thompson, Tom Bower, Sheila McCarthy, Don Harvey, Tony Ganios, Peter Nelson, Robert Patrick, John Leguizamo, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Mark Boone Junior, Colm Meaney
Written by: Steven E. de Souza, Doug Richardson, based on a novel by Walter Wager
Directed by: Renny Harlin
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 124
Date: 07/02/1990

Die Hard 2 (1990)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Trying 'Harder'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Renny Harlin's Die Hard 2 (1990), which is often mistakenly called its ad campaign slogan "Die Harder," still plays fairly well today. It may even be better than the first film in regards to overall quality, though its extraordinary violence seems a little over the top. Rather than copy the formula of the first film, the producers found another novel, 58 Minutes by Walter Wager, to adapt.

This time McClane arrives at the airport to meet his wife, just as terrorists take over the control tower. The ace up their sleeve is that they can make the pilots think that the ground is farther away than it really is, causing planes to crash when they think they're still airborne.

Willis again provides the center of the film with his strong, desperate performance, and director Harlin gives the film a more playful feel that previous director John McTiernan's work lacks. (Not surprisingly, Harlin's DVD commentary track is far more lively as well.)

The two sequels lack that wonderful freshness that the first movie had, but in a way, they've stood the test of time better. I admired how racially mixed the casts are and how the series uses African Americans as heroes and villains equally. I'm also continually impressed by how good Willis can be; he really brings a soul to this character when it could have been just another cardboard creation.

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