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Double Feature: Die Hard / Die Hard 2

What was originally going to be a four-review feature, I decided to split the reviews into two camps, primarily because of the tone and atmosphere shift that happened in the franchise. The Die Hard franchise follows the life of one John McClane, and all of the horrible things that could happen in a span of one cop's life, considering he stumbles through most of it on coincidence. The movies show a chronological movement in his life: from his troubled marriage to his troubled relationship with his now grown-up children. The first two Die Hard movies happen during Christmas Eve, with a year span from each other. Both movies also carry a one-location format, with Die Hard being set in Holly McClane's workplace, and Die Hard 2 occurs in an airport in Washington, D.C.

Die Hard


In Die Hard, we meet one of the coolest and clever villains John McClane had to face: Hans Gruber, played brilliantly by Alan Rickman. He and his band of marauders plan to heist the Nakatomi building during an office Christmas party (on a side note, who has their Christmas party on Christmas Eve?) to steal some transferable bonds that they deem to be simply change (in terms of monetary value to the head company). Unfortunately for them, this is the same building where Holly Genero/McClane worked, and her husband was just coming to see her in order to sort matters on their marriage.

I really wasn't seeing what the big deal was when I first watched the movie, but it does get better with every screening. It was fun, and smart. Hans Gruber definitely wasn't a typical villain, and by the looks of McClane, he wasn't a typical hero either. He had to rely on his wits and situation in order to get noticed. He took risks, even when it meant giving away his position. He was very injured in this movie (who can go and save people while your feet are bleeding?), and as a result looks very battered, but his will to save his wife was there. Gruber was an interesting villain because he's quite cunning as well. I really liked the scene where Gruber and McClane officially meet face to face. It was such an intriguing scene, until the blood bath commences. That scene was very out of hero-villain confrontation equation because we all know the characters they play, and it's not something that's done in other movies.

While the movie officially launches the soon-to-be-six-movies-franchise, and Bruce Willis was a strong all-American cop, Alan Rickman completely steals the show. From the moment he entered the screen, to his conversations and actions, you know he's the character to reckon with. He was the brains of the whole operation, and yet he needed the ample manpower to be his guns, and a tech guy to break his codes. He has planned out every quirk in the heist, and adjusts them accordingly when McClane starts to tamper with his plans. He just doesn't go and give up, he conjures up back up plans up until the end, when he was informed of McClane's weakness. From all the villains in the franchise, it's hard to top the character and the actor playing him.

This was the franchise at its finest. It was interesting and smart, and still doesn't fail to deliver the entertainment that an action movie promises. There's no shortage of outstanding characters and clever stunts. It was quite a thriller.



Final Word: It just gets better every time.


Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia
Director: John McTiernan
Year: 1988




Die Hard 2

Die Hard 2 can be seen as a complete rehash of its predecessor, this time set in what I can claim to be McClane's turf. When a political leader turns up in US government custody, a known political ally turns rogue and infiltrates the D.C. airport in order to extract the leader and escape. John McClane must have a good eye for trouble, as he immediately identifies these people as potential troublemakers and makes his case, despite the ignorance of airport police. Only when the airport breaks down and jeopardizes flights that are to land do they take the cop seriously, with his actions leading to various explosions.

The sequel tried to recapture the spark that allowed its predecessor to succeed. Besides the complete do-over of the plot, we even encounter old characters from the previous movie (though not playing pivotal parts in the sequel). There's the smart villain who seem to have everything well planned, but somewhere along the way the movie goes downhill. Despite adding that twist at the last second, the movie declined in quality when the general was about to land. What was a calm and collected terrorist played by William Sadler, he suddenly became muddled at the arrival of the prisoner. If it wasn't for his clever back up plan, I don't think he could have made it out alive.

The flaws were more obvious, but I did enjoy the disbelief the McClanes expressed, having to experience similar events over again. The final scene between McClane and the terrorists was also a thrilling scene. What was a difficult scene to execute ended quite simply.



Final Word: It was almost the same movie as its predecessor, but something was missing to make this as good as that.


Cast: Bruce Willis, William Atherton, Bonnie Bedelia
Director: Renny Harlin
Year: 1990

Comments

  1. Pretty fair assessment. Glad to see you not completely crap on part 2 like a lot of folks do. It's not as good as the original, but still a fun movie. Great read.

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  2. Die Hard 2 was the same movie in a different setting - it wasn't as good, but it was still all right. I'd rather have this over the fifth Die Hard movie any day.

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  3. Yeah, I'm with Wendell, you might like Part 2 a bit more than me, but it's by no means a god awful shitfest that most claim it to be. Definitely a fair assessment here.

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    1. It wasn't as great as the first movie, but the difference in quality is quite evident. It's not as shitty as everyone apparently makes it out to be (I didn't know a lot of people did not like the second movie).

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