Die Hard 2

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Die Hard 2
Die Hard 2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Renny Harlin
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on 58 Minutes by
Walter Wager
Characters by
Roderick Thorp
Music by Michael Kamen
Cinematography Oliver Wood
Edited by
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • July 4, 1990 (1990-07-04)
Running time
124 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $70 million[1]
Box office $240 million[1]

Die Hard 2 (sometimes referred to as Die Hard 2: Die Harder)[2] is a 1990 American action film and the second in the Die Hard film series. It was released on July 4, 1990. The film was directed by Renny Harlin, and stars Bruce Willis as John McClane. The film co-stars Bonnie Bedelia (reprising her role as Holly McClane), William Sadler, Art Evans, William Atherton (reprising his role as Richard "Dick" Thornburg), Franco Nero, Dennis Franz, Fred Thompson, John Amos, and Reginald VelJohnson, returning briefly in his role as Sgt. Al Powell from the first film.

The screenplay was written by Steven E. de Souza and Doug Richardson, adapted from Walter Wager's novel 58 Minutes. The novel has the same premise but differs slightly: A cop must stop terrorists who take an airport hostage while his wife's plane circles overhead. He has 58 minutes to do so before the plane crashes. Roderick Thorp, who wrote the novel Nothing Lasts Forever, upon which Die Hard was based, receives credit for creating "certain original characters", although his name is misspelled onscreen as "Roderick Thorpe".

As with the first film, the action in Die Hard 2 takes place on Christmas Eve. McClane is waiting for his wife to land at Washington Dulles International Airport when terrorists take over the air traffic control system. He must stop the terrorists before his wife's plane and several other incoming flights that are circling the airport run out of fuel and crash. During the night, McClane must also contend with airport police, maintenance workers, and a military commander who does not want his assistance.

The film was preceded by Die Hard and followed by Die Hard with a Vengeance in 1995, Live Free or Die Hard in 2007 and A Good Day to Die Hard in 2013.


On Christmas Eve, two years after the Nakatomi Tower Incident, John McClane is waiting at Washington Dulles International Airport for his wife Holly to arrive from Los Angeles. Reporter Richard Thornburg, who exposed Holly's identity to Hans Gruber in the Nakatomi Tower, is assigned a seat across the aisle from her. In the airport bar McClane spots two men in army fatigues carrying a package, one of whom has a gun. He follows them into the baggage area. After a shootout, he kills one of the men while the other escapes. Learning the dead man is a mercenary thought killed in action, McClane relates the situation to airport police Captain Carmine Lorenzo, but Lorenzo has McClane ejected from his office.

Former U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel Stuart and other members of his unit set up a base in a church near Dulles. They take over the air traffic control systems, cut off communication to the planes and seize control of the airport. Their goal is to rescue General Ramon Esperanza, a drug lord and dictator of Val Verde, who is being extradited to the United States to stand trial on drug trafficking charges. They demand a Boeing 747 cargo plane so they can escape to another country, and warn the airport controllers not to try to restore control. McClane realizes his wife is on one of the planes circling above Washington, D.C. with too little fuel to be redirected. He prepares to fight the terrorists, allying himself with a janitor, Marvin, to gain larger access to the airport.

Dulles communications director Leslie Barnes heads to the unfinished Annex Skywalk with a SWAT team to re-establish communications with the planes. Stuart's henchmen ambush the group at a checkpoint, killing the SWAT team. With Marvin's help, McClane reaches the massacre scene, rescuing Barnes and killing Stuart's men. Stuart responds by recalibrating the instrument landing system and then impersonating air traffic controllers to crash a British jet, killing all 230 passengers and crew on board. A U.S. Army Special Forces team is called in, led by Major Grant. A two-way radio dropped by one of Stuart's henchmen tips McClane that Esperanza is landing.

With Marvin's aid, McClane reaches the aircraft before Stuart's henchmen, but Stuart traps him and throws grenades into the cockpit. McClane escapes via the ejection seat as the aircraft explodes. Barnes helps McClane locate the mercenaries's hideout and they tell Grant and his team to raid the location, but the mercenaries escape on snowmobiles. McClane pursues them, but the gun he picked up does not kill anyone when fired. He discovers that the gun is loaded with blanks, and concludes that the mercenaries and Special Forces have been working together all along.

McClane contacts Lorenzo to intercept the Boeing 747 in which the mercenaries will escape, proving his story by firing at Lorenzo with the blank gun. A suspicious Thornburg is monitoring airport radio traffic, and learns about the situation from a secret transmission to the circling planes from Barnes. He phones in a sensational and exaggerated take on what is happening, leading to panic and preventing the officers from reaching the escape plane. Holly subdues Thornburg with a taser.

McClane hitches a ride on a news helicopter that drops him off on the wing of the mercenary plane. He blocks the ailerons with his jacket, preventing the plane from taking off. Grant emerges and fights McClane, but is sucked into the jet engine and killed. Stuart then comes out and succeeds in knocking McClane off the plane, but as he falls McClane opens the fuel hatch. McClane uses his cigarette lighter to ignite the trail of fuel, which destroys the jet, killing Esperanza, Stuart and all on board. The passenger planes in the sky then use the lighted trail to land, and McClane and his wife are reunited.


The terrorists[edit]


Commercial response[edit]

The film exceeded all expectations by actually outdoing the massive box office success of Die Hard.[3] The film had a budget of US$70 million and had a wide release in 2,507 theaters, making $21.7 million its opening weekend. Die Hard 2 has domestically made $117.5 million and $239.5 million worldwide, almost doubling that of Die Hard.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Die Hard 2 received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 69% "Fresh" rating based on 61 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10. The critical consensus reads, "It lacks the fresh thrills of its predecessor, but Die Hard 2 still works as an over-the-top -- and reasonably taut -- big-budget sequel, with plenty of set pieces to paper over the plot deficiencies".[4] Roger Ebert, who gave the original film a negative review, described the sequel as "terrific entertainment", despite noting the substantial credibility problems with the plot.[5] Jay Boyar of Orlando Sentinel dubbed the film as being as disappointing a sequel as Another 48 Hours and Robocop 2 were and described the film as having "Whatever small pleasure there is to be found in this loud dud is due mostly to the residual good feelings from the first film... As played by Bruce Willis, McClane is still an engaging character, even if he is much less amusingly drawn this time. Willis is in there trying, but the qualities that helped to make his character sympathetic in the first film are missing. McClane no longer worries openly about his personal safety, as he did in the original movie. His quasi-cowboy personality from Die Hard is all but forgotten - he has become more of a Rambo and less of a Roy Rogers. And though the filmmakers try to establish McClane as resistant to advanced technology, this promising idea isn't developed."[6]

Empire Magazine delivered a 3/5 star rating to the film while stating "It's entertaining nonsense that doesn't quite manage to recapture the magic of the original. Still, there are some nice moments here, and Willis is on solid ground as the iconic McClane."[7]

Gene Siskel ranked the film as the 6th best movie of 1990.[8][9]

Maxim magazine ranked the plane crash #2 on its list of "Greatest Movie Plane Crashes".[10]

Production and promotion[edit]

Die Hard 2 was the first film to use digitally composited live-action footage with a traditional matte painting that had been photographed and scanned into a computer. It was used for the last scene, which took place on a runway.[11]

One of the writers of the screenplay, Steven E. de Souza, later admitted in an interview for the book Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie that the villains were based on America's "Central American" meddling, primarily the Iran–Contra affair.[12]

Scenes were shot at the Alpena Airport in Northern Michigan. The location was chosen in part because of its propensity for snowfall, but due to a lack of snow before and during filming artificial snow had to be used.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d "Die Hard 2 - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  2. ^ The film's on-screen title is Die Hard 2, and the film's official website at the Wayback Machine (archived June 21, 2008) refers to it as such. The film's original advertising used "Die Harder" as a tagline, and many releases of the film (e.g.the 2006 DVD release and 2007 Blu-ray Disc release) came out under the title Die Hard 2: Die Harder. Several other official sources, such as the director's website and the Die Hard Trilogy video game, also refer to it as Die Hard 2: Die Harder.
  3. ^ Tom Sherak (commentator) (May 19, 1995). Die Hard with a Vengeance (DVD). Beverly Hills, California: 20th Century Fox. Event occurs at 35:12. Die Hard 2 actually, as I recall, did better than Die Hard 1, which is very unusual. Sequels normally do about 65% of their original, but this one just exploded. 
  4. ^ Die Hard 2 at Rotten Tomatoes
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 3, 1990). "Die Hard 2: Die Harder (Review)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  6. ^ http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1990-07-03/lifestyle/9007020096_1_die-hard-2-die-harder-mcclane
  7. ^ http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=130778
  8. ^ http://alumnus.caltech.edu/~ejohnson/critics/siskel.html
  9. ^ http://www.innermind.com/misc/s_e_top.htm
  10. ^ "The Greatest Movie Plane Crashes", Maxim.com
  11. ^ Leonard, Matt. "The History of Computer Graphics and Effects". Ohio State University Department of Industrial Interior and Visual Design. Retrieved 2009-07-10. 
  12. ^ Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie, page 165

External links[edit]