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  • Writer's pictureRob Freese

ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar- Day 8

ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar- Day 8

Sequels are just a fact of life. If you happen to be one of the lucky few and you score a major blockbuster, chances are the next opportunity you'll be offered is sequelizing your hit flick. When your first movie took place on Christmas, you kind of find yourself in a pickle. "Did people flock to it because it was a great movie or because it was a Christmas movie?" The only answer is to make the movie exactly like the first one and let your main character speak for the audience.

Warning: Spoiler Alert! If you haven't seen it and want to see it, stop reading and go watch it, then come back. I'm not kidding. I spoil everything.

ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar December 8- Die Hard 2 (1990)

When Die Hard struck gold at the 1988 box office, it was inevitable a follow-up could not be far behind. The one question voiced most often by fans was, "Is it going to be a Christmas movie?"

Upon it's July 3 release, Christmas came early in 1990. Sort of.

Two years after the incident at Nakatomi Tower, John McClane (Bruce Willis) is in D.C. to meet his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) for an old fashioned family Christmas. At Dulles International Airport, a group of terrorists led by Stuart (William Sandler) seize the airport and hold all the planes hostage in exchange for the release of International criminal Esperanza (Franco Nero). Once again McClane is there to save the day.

The action is as show-stopping as anything in the original, and it moves at a bullet's pace, but for me, the energy isn't the same. I think it suffered from from lack of a great villain.

Don't get me wrong. Big Bill Sandler is perfect as the ex-military meathead leading his former troops on a mercenary mission to free Esperanza. And Nero is also a total badass. But I don't think it really mattered who played the villain in this one, they were going to come up anything but short when compared to Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber from the first movie. (While bad guys are always fun, Die Hard was one of those rare action movies where audiences were torn between rooting for the good guy and rooting for the bad guy.)

This is just as explosive, just as bloody, just as action packed and gory as the first one. DH 2 has all the elements that worked in the first film, but now it is snow covered, for a more traditional Christmas feel. Willis cracks wise and the supporting cast is boosted by a perfectly sleazy Dennis Franz and Tom Bower as mumbling Marvin, the maintenance man.

The point in the movie where Willis questions how nearly the exact same circumstances have happened to him on another Christmas Eve was essential to include because everyone in the theater was thinking it. As soon as Willis said it out loud and everyone was let in on the joke, it was not longer a thing.

Where this flick totally misses the boat is in the "Christmas movie" department. It's not a Christmas movie, it's a movie that takes place during Christmas. There is a difference. Okay, stay with me.

The first Die Hard was definitely a Christmas movie because everything that happened happened because it was Christmastime. The security at Nakatomi Tower was lighter for the holiday and the mercenaries had more time to get in and grab their loot. There was a Christmas party, which isolated everyone in the building. Perfect hostages to use as leverage, had Mr. Nakatomi not decided to go all Ebenezer on Gruber. McClane was only there to make amends with his wife over the Christmas holiday.

Die Hard 2 takes place during Christmastime. Esperanza did not have to be transferred on Christmas Eve. It's obvious flight travel is not lighter over the holidays. McClane being at the airport to pick up his wife comes across more like a coincidence than anything else. It's also lacking in what I would call "Holiday Cheer."

Still, it's a damn fine action flick with a wider playing field than the first film for plenty more scenes of grandiose action and there's enough Christmas flavor in it to do its thing. They would make one more really great Die Hard movie (Die Hard with a Vengeance, 1995) and then knock out a couple more that were more or less of Direct to Video quality productions.

Die Hard 2 on Australian Betamax and VHS

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