John McClane: Welcome to the party, pal!
Die Hard isn't just a movie, it's a spectacle. A spectacle of action. It's an event. It is the perfect definition of action movies in general and what every viewer should want to receive from that genera.
If you actually don't know the plot, the movie is about NYPD cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) who stops by at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles for a Christmas party to visit his wife. While there, right out of the blue, a group of smart and exceedingly violent terrorists with a plan, led by the ever so ruthless Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), seize control of the building talking ahold everyone hostage, except for John who gets away. Now it's up to him to fight back!
Joseph Takagi: You want money? What kind of terrorists are you?
Hans Gruber: Who said we were terrorists?
What really drives the movie is McClane. His sarcastic and badass attitude allows me to relate to him as a human being, maybe it's just a guy thing. His "badassery" mixed with his sheer vulnerability makes him feel like a real person. Every time I watch this movie I actually put myself in John's shoes and think "Yes, that is exactly what I would do in that scenario."
Tony: You won't hurt me.
John McClane: Oh, yeah? Why not?
Tony: Because you're a policeman. There are rules for policemen.
John McClane: Yeah. That's what my captain keeps telling me.
John and the lead terrorist Hans Gruber call for a great force of rivalry that also keeps the movie going. What makes the dynamic of these two characters work so well is that Hans, while evil, is very smart. At one point he even talks of having a classical education. Whereas John has more of a wise cracking, sarcastic street smart personification. Even with the two only spending time together face to face once throughout the entire movie, they demonstrate some of the greatest hero/villain chemistry in film history as they communicate by radio most of the time.
Hans Gruber: Do you really think you have a chance against us Mister Cowboy?
John McClane: Yippie ki yay, motherfucker.
I usually don't like to address certain things as amazing because it sounds so cheesy, but with Die Hard, the action truly is amazingly brilliant. For 1988 there are some fantastic set pieces that look sick and do nothing more than solely advance the story. There are so many generically made action films out there today that have enormously expensive looking special effects which do nothing but disconnect the audience from the movie. But with Die Hard it is all kept grounded and subtle, effortlessly making everything seem incredibly intense and realistic. This all goes back to relating to the troubled John McClane who is just trying to do the right thing.
Theo: All right, listen up guys. 'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except... the four assholes coming in the rear in standard two-by-two cover formation.
You've also got some nice man to man moments between McClane and Sgt. Al Powell of the LAPD (Reginald VelJohnson, Carl Winslow) who also communicates with him over a radio. Outside of the Nakatomi building, once the cops are notified of the situation there is a lot of controversy among the cops as to weather or not McClane is who he says he is. Al (or AKA Carl) is one of the cops that believes in John.
Al Powell: Hey, Roy, how you feeling?
John McClane: Pretty fucking unappreciated, Al.
Al Powell: Hey, look. I love you. So do a lot of the other guys. So hang in there, man, you hear me? You hang in there.
John McClane: Yeah, thanks, partner.
Simply put, this is action at its finest. John McTerrian of "Predator" directed Die Hard which is and probably will always be his finest achievement. It is amazing how nothing here is dated at all. Action fans everywhere look up to John McClane as their hero. People everywhere quote his famous "Yippie Ki Yay" line all these years later. I watch it traditionally every holiday season. Why? Because it really is that great, it's something I'd kill to be able see on the big screen with a crowd. Oh, Let it snow!
John McClane: I got invited to the Christmas party by mistake. Who knew?
John McClane: Oh man I can't fucking believe this. Another basement, another elevator. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?
So here is absolute proof that according to the rules of Hollywood, every successful action movie must have a sequel. It's Die Hard 2 and statistically speaking, it's bigger. Figuratively, it's much smaller.
Bruce Willis is back as John McClane two years after the famous "Nakatomi incident". His wife-relationship problems are resolved because of the big incident, in which him and his wife Holly forgave each other and settled their differences. John McClane, now a Los Angeles police officer, is awaiting the arrival of Holly at a Washington Airport. Also scheduled for this evening is a flight from South America which should bring a drug dealer back to the United States. A team of high tech gangsters manage to take over the Airport's radar facility. They want to free the drug dealer. But they have only one little problem: John McClane!
Al Powell: You're not pissing in somebody's pool, are you?
John McClane: Yeah, and I'm fresh outta chlorine.
I have many problems with this movie, but the real key factor as to why it doesn't work is the fact that it is a sequel to the fantastic 'Die Hard' resulting in this film to lack all tensity. If this were not a sequel and it were its own movie, I might have enjoyed it more. But having seen the first film I know nothing bad will happen to John McClane by the end. What I continue to love about the first movie was how simple and intense it was. Every time I watch that movie I get that amazing feeling every man gets when seeing a kick ass action movie, plus that feeling every movie buff gets when witnessing an "all timer" like Die Hard. While watching Die Hard 2 (with the exception of a few cool scenes) am am either bored or amused at how cheesy something is pulled off. Yes, I found myself laughing from time to time, and the most depressing thing about it was I knew I wasn't supposed to.
The main villain here played by William Sadler is a menacing dude, but very forgettable. Sadler did a great job along with Willis, but the whole idea just didn't work. I feel like I should know a great villain by his name, like Hans Gruber. But I just know this villain from Die Hard 2 as "the villain".
Carmine Lorenzo: You are in my little pond now, and I am the big fish that runs it.
There is nothing that separates this movie from the first movie in terms of its environment. There is nothing here that makes this movie feel like it takes place in a different universe than the first movie. There are plenty of fan-satisfying moments, and some cool scenes here and there, but overall I got nothing close to the riveting excitement Die Hard 1 pleased me with. Why? Well if you look at the movie from a raw perspective it's the exact same structure. In other words, Die Hard 2 does in fact feel like a Die Hard movie, yet everything about it is so similar resulting in one lame sequel.
John McClane: Just once, Id like a regular, normal Christmas. Eggnog, a fuckin Christmas tree, a little turkey. But, no. I gotta crawl around in this motherfuckin tin can!