Incredible sequel


Die Hard 2 is one of the best examples of the genre and fully deserves its place in the series.

Let's be clear, Harlin is a workmanlike director - he doesn't bring the style and sophistication of McTiernan. McT understands and commands the artform as well as the finest filmmakers out there. Like Speilberg, he FEELS the medium and understands its musical, temporal quality while also having an eye for realism and a knack for eliciting precise performances from actors (as well as knowing how to blow shït up good). Give him a pulpy but well-crafted screenplay and you get masterworks like Die Hard and, to a slightly lesser extent, With A Vengeance.

Joel Silver is a smart and successful producer. He knew that without McTiernan he could still cook up a good sequel by surrounding a competent storyteller who understands TENSION with talent. The original screenwriters returned to create a script founded on a good page-turner, as with the first film. Much of the supporting cast returned. Master composer Michael Kamen returned. Master editor Stuart Baird was brought in, as well as an additional supporting cast composed of strong players like Dennis Franz, Fred Dalton Thompson and John Amos.

With all that in place, and guided by Silver's shrewd eye, Harlin just had to put it all together. Not only did he achieve that, he peppers the film with some of his own masterful touches. One of his biggest contributions was having the villains crash a full passenger plane (the studio wanted a cargo plane to go down), this change by Harlin brings the film firmly into disaster movie territory and makes act 2 of the story a MAJOR game changer. The film spends enough time showing McClane and others' emotional reactions to the tragedy to honour such a horrific event, and it propels the story into act 3 with charged momentum.

Harlin's other contribution is his excellent handling of tension-filled action. Nifty set-pieces like climbing out of the runway vent in the nick of time before being squished by a landing plane, the gun on the conveyor belt, the cunning ejector-seat escape. These last-second escapes from certain death while being trapped are a specialty of Harlin's and he turns them to high-points of the entire genre. They didn't have the filmmaking technology to quite pull off the ambitious ejector-escape shot convincingly, but the idea itself is inspired (and was copied in Goldeneye).

Inventive deaths which exploit the environment also pepper the film. Icicle-in-the-eye, minced in a jet engine, crushed in a baggage conveyor - the film fully explores the possibilities of its confined location. Harlin, from Finland, relishes the snow-filled black night which becomes a memorable visual texture of the film. He also relishes brutal bloody violence, and ensures that bullet wounds explode with blood and slit throats bleed profusely, as they should - none of the sanitised, safe, bland, restrained, DHINO-style distorted-for-kids take on violence here.

The story's pacing is excellent. The pieces are all set up in an unhurried, assured way, making sure that the playing field and the characters are clear and detailed so that when the shït hits the fan the impact is that much more affecting. Act 2's plane crash works because of this. The confinement works as it did in Die Hard - engrossing us as each new phase of the combat takes us deeper into the night. Die Hard 2 also features arguably the series' best finalé - a spectacular blow up all of the bad guys in one move with a cigarette lighter. It's inspired.

Criticisms of the film's ridiculous similarities to it's predecessor are moot - this is pulp material done well, but still pulp. I wanna see Indiana Jones go on a globe-trotting adventure in pursuit of an ancient artefact every few years. I wanna see James Bond suavely save the world from some twisted villain every few years. And I wanna see blue collar cop John McClane take on terrorists (or robbers if you must) every few years. As long as it's done well, the concept is so strong that it DESERVES multiple interpretations.

As a Die Hard film, Die Harder is a more straightforward and serious thriller, lacking the richness and sophistication of its predecessor, but full of memorable flourishes and genre highlights. Crucially, it retains the spirit of the series, is built on strong foundations, and respects the character of McClane - none of which can be said for the juvenile sellout mess that is DHINO.

reply

very nice. look forward to watching it this december.

reply

Renny Harlin garbage.

reply

Wrong. DH2 and Cliffhanger are two of the best Die Hard clones. The Long Kiss Goodnight and Deep Blue Sea confirm that Harlin can deliver.

Sure, his career is in the toilet now, but back in the day he was a reliable director of second-tier action movies.

reply

It's not better than Die Hard with a Vengeance but it is a pretty good sequel to the first film, and is also the last one to have the whole Christmas vibe to it. The first two movies I can only watch during December now.

reply

Vengeance has the McTiernan Magic back, but DH2 recaptures the disaster movie feel of the first film and offers lots of awesome kills and other treats along the way.

reply

Cliffhanger has a great opening 5 minutes then it turns into standard Renny crap. Terrible movie. DH2 is a 5/10 action movie at best.

His only good films are LKG and Ford Fairlane. Everything else he did was embarrassingly bad. Even the tv show episodes he directed would suffer under his temporary hand. But I will give him those two. LKG is a 8/10 action movie that only occasionally feels like a Harlin movie. FF is ridiculous but worth some laughs. Perhaps the comedy of Dice helped cover the typical sour touch of Renny.

reply

Yeah, you’re just massively wrong.

reply

Renny Harlin was a very successful director by the time he had turned 30. I like Die Hard 2 more than I like DH1/DH3/DH4. He was very talented and his directing style was fresh & crisp.
Not many directors his age have managed this level of success.

It was not until his run-ins with Carolco Pictures and the vindictive Andrew G. Vajna that his career had its first huge blow.
Andrew G. Vajna basically managed to get Renny Harlin canceled. Blaming him for sinking Vajna life work, Carolco Pictures.

This devastated Renny Harlin career. He did not work for 4-5 years after this.

When he returned he had changes his directing style trying to copy Michael Bays visual style. Driven was another failure. So have basically every project he has been in involved with since. He now have to travel to Asia in order to get work.

reply

I could not disagree with you more. This movie is better than Die Hard 4 and 5. I would give it an 8/10. But Die Hard 1 and 3 are both a 10/10 to me. That's just me though. I enjoy 4 but it is definitley inferior to the others and 5 was okay. I only saw it once in theaters. Not the worse movie in the world but not that great either.

reply

I can’t decide whether 2 is better than Vengeance or not. It’s probably a weaker film overall but I just love it more - the snowy nighttime setting, cool deaths, disaster movie feel and incredible ending win me over.

Vengeance is classier and funnier but has a weak ending.

reply

Why did Vajna try to get Renny cancelled?

You’d think that studios would be eager to have Renny make things in the style of Cliffhanger, Die Hard 2 and Long Kiss Goodnight - classics that still make money to this day.

The Hollywood elite seems to consist almost entirely of clueless dumbasses, and those with talent like Harvey Weinstein can’t keep their grubby mits off the actresses and get themselves cancelled 🙄

Town’s a goddam mess.

reply

Carolco Pictures was in dire straits financially and invested everything on the success of Cutthroat Island (1995) They went belly up in the wake of its release. It was Mario Kassar that got Renny blacklisted, not Andrew G. Vajna. I mixed them up. It’s a long time ago. Renny was blamed. Happens all the time when a film is not successful. The director is blamed even if it’s the studio that cut the film together.

No studio will make films like Cliffhanger, Die Hard 2 and Long Kiss Goodnight ever again. You will have the Marvel & FF series and you will have those low budget mass productions. Very few of those $ 35 – 55 million productions we saw in the 1990s.

For The Hollywood elite it’s a numbers game. Content is suffering. The art form that was American Movies is a thing of the past like shopping malls and Kodak.

Did you know, if you live in LA or NYC, that you cant make a living on being an actor alone ? You need a second job to support yourself. That’s how bad the film industry is right now pre covid19. Only one that makes money are the producers and the streaming services ( for now )

reply