Die Hard 2: Die Harder: Special Edition
What do you do when your action film grosses millions worldwide? Make a sequel, of course. In Die Hard 2: Die Harder vacationing cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) must once again single-handedly save his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) and a host of innocent bystanders from those ubiquitous terrorists. This time the action takes place at Washington D.C.'s Dulles Airport, where incompetent cops and halfwit airport personnel force McClane to take matters into his own hands. ("How does the same shit happen to the same guy twice?" quips McClane. Hey Bruno, it's a sequel!) Seems a deposed dictator/drug lord has contracted with a group of US ex-military-turned-mercenary types to help him escape from an international trial. When the bad guys take over the airport by turning off the runway lights and airport communication systems, planes are forced to circle the city, using up their fuel reserves while everyone waits for the dictator's plane to land all this in the middle of a raging snowstorm. Holly is on one of those planes, and once again the world-weary John is the only person on the scene smart enough to out-smart this band of thugs. Director Renny Harlin helms this roller-coaster ride at a rapid pace, never slowing down long enough to give the viewer much time to contemplate the glaring plot holes and near-complete absence of logic. From plane crashes to pyrotechnics, from snowmobile chases to a fistfight on the wing of a moving plane, the action is nonstop. Not quite as much fun as the first Die Hard, Die Hard 2 is nevertheless amusing entertainment albeit with a much higher body count. Some characters from the original Die Hard are tiresomely revived, like sleazy news reporter Richard Thornburg (William Atherton) and Twinkie-eating L.A. cop Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), while newcomers like combat guerrillas William Sadler and John Amos serve only as cardboard characters spouting taut one-liners. This leaves Willis to carry the film, and he pulls it off admirably, using an engaging mix of tough-guy antics and humorous wisecracks. Willis's "why-me?" humility makes him a sympathetic lead, downplaying his heroics as an everyman who's just having a bad day. Fox's two-disc Die Hard 2: Die Harder: Special Edition (which replaces their previous one-disc edition) offers a good anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with audio in DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby 2.0 Surround the film looks and sounds outstanding. Unfortunately, the plentiful extras some the result of the Hollywood hype-machine leave something to be desired. Disc One offers a mundane commentary by Harlin, while Disc Two includes the clip-laden made-for-TV special "The Making of Die Hard 2" that essentially serves as an infomercial (23 min.); a second, shorter featurette (4 min.); four listless deleted scenes; an interview segment with director Harlin with film clips; a "Villain's Profile," with bland interview sound bites and more film clips (although actor William Sadler's recollection of his naked Tai Chi scene is amusing); behind-the-scenes looks at two action sequences and a look at storyboards for one of them (the "conveyor belt" scene); "Visual Effects" breakdowns of two more sequences; and four theatrical trailers and a TV spot. Dual-DVD keep-case.
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