Christmas Action Movies > Die Hard 2

So yeah…after some thought, the whole “Poe Ghostal Unpegged” thing seemed like an unnecessary split. Instead, I’m just going to start writing about whatever I want right here on PGPoA. It’s my site and I just can’t write about only toys now. There will still be plenty of toy-related writing, but also stuff like this. I hope you enjoy this new direction, but if not, know that it’s probably either this or PGPoA slowly dies.

I know what you’re thinking. “Poe,” you’re thinking, “why the hell would you make Die Hard 2 your inaugural Christmas Action Movie post, instead of the far superior Die Hard?” Well, the main reason is that I’ve seen Die Hard about two dozen times and Die Hard 2 maybe three times, and two of those times have been over the last two Christmases. It’s fun to change things up occasionally. I’ll get to Die Hard eventually, worry not.

Die Hard 2 is something of a forgotten sequel, a movie that shamelessly swipes the plot of the first film. I myself often thought of Die Hard 2 this way until I re-watched the movie last year. I was surprised to find it was entertaining–in some ways almost as entertaining as the first film, if not quite as well written or acted. And the action! I think in some ways DH2 set the template for the action films of the 1990s through today: a fast-moving plot that jumps from action set piece to action set piece, anchored by a charismatic star and a ruthless villain. Oddly enough, I find DH2 feels more like a modern action film than the original Die Hard; to be fair, some of that is due to the soullessness of the production.

Carl Winslow eating a Twinkie!

The plot can be summed up as “Die Hard meets Airport.” A group of renegade American special forces dudes, led by Aryan ubermensch Colonel Stuart (played William “Death in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” Sadler, who gets one of those gratuitous 1980s action movie naked butt scenes), take over an airport. For reasons I was never entirely clear on, they’re trying to rescue Ramon Esperanza, the ousted dictator of the South American country of Val Verde who is being extradited to the U.S. to face charges of drug trafficking. Or something.

Sipowicz!

Here’s my fanfic-style explanation of the situation, based entirely on the 1980s use of the fictional country of Val Verde: Stuart was one of the American commandos who aided Esperanza in overthrowing President Arius from Commando. When Arius’s plan to use John Matrix to assassinate Esperanza fails, Esperanza consolidates his power through the drug trade and puts down a Russian-funded Communist insurgency. Due to his drug ties, Esperanza is eventually ousted by the American government that put him there in the first place. The jingoistic Stuart and his commandos remain loyal to Esperanza because of his anti-Communist stance and concoct the plan to prevent his extradition to the U.S.

Oh, and somewhere in there John Matrix changed his name to Dutch Schaefer and fought the Predator.

The T-1000!

Anyway, so that’s out of the way. One thing I really enjoy about the first two Die Hard movies is how they integrate the Christmas theme into the story–it’s not just a setting, it plays a role. Whether it’s writing “ho ho ho” in blood on a terrorist’s shirt or a holiday blizzard snarling airport traffic, you always know it’s Christmas in these movies.

Yes it's true - this man has no dick.

But perhaps the most entertaining aspect of Die Hard 2 are all the appearances by actors who are better known for other, often very similar, roles. You’ve got Reginald VelJohnson returning from Die Hard as buddy cop Al Powell in a small part, a few years before he became Carl Winslow (more on that at a later date); William Atherton once again playing an asshole, this time in an encore performance as a douchebag journalist from the first film; Dennis Franz playing proto-Sipowicz airport police chief Lorenzo; Robert Patrick practicing for his role as the T-1000 in Terminator 2 by portraying a terrorist; and finally, a two-second cameo by John Leguizamo as a bad guy medic or something.

...and Clown from Spawn!

At this point, I’d rate the Die Hard movies, from best to worst, like this: Die Hard, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Die Hard 2, Live Free or Die Hard. Now, I didn’t totally hate Live Free or Die Hard–certainly not anywhere near as much as I hated Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull*–but it’s definitely the least of them all. Unfortunately, it appears there’s going to be a Die Hard 5, though Patrick Stewart may be involved, so maybe it won’t totally suck.

*On a side note, I think geeks should start pushing for the phrase “nuking the fridge” to mean creating an in-continuity third+ sequel to a film at least ten years after the previous entry. It’s better than just using it as a another term for jumping the shark. There are already at least four examples: Crystal Skull, Live Free or Die Hard, Rocky Balboa, and Rambo.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Comments now closed (6)

  • Hey, I loved “Rocky Balboa”!

    Great article nonetheless, I won’t mind you writing more non-toy stuff like this. 🙂

  • Yeah, I'd noticed earlier that you'd deleted the other site. Glad you're just transferring it here. I think that's for the best.

    Sounds like you go through the same uncertainty and ambivalence I do, where blogging is concerned. I've started and deleted several blogs in the past two years without sending links to anyone. Just started a new toy blog a week or two ago, in fact, and haven't done anything with it since.

  • Glad to see you are keeping it all on this site. Good decision. I look forward to the new content.

  • Last weekend my Christmas movie list included both Die Hards, Lethal Weapon 1 and Batman Returns.

  • I'm surprised Tim Burton's Batman isn't more popular as a Christmas action movie. It's been a tradition in my family for a long time.

    We watch Jesus Christ Superstar during dinner then watch Batman while we eat pie, but we've had problems because Superman is banned being mentioned at our household during the holidays due to fact that we can't have both Jesus Christ and a potential Jesus Christ allegorical at the same time, it's just discourteous.

    I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks. The captions were great.

    I definitely agree about nuking the fridge, but another addition is either 2004's Aliens Vs Predator (thirdquel to 1990's Predator 2) which is dubious in terms of continuity, despite the involvement of a Weyland, or 2010's Predators, which is firmly in the continuity of the first two films.

  • I thought Rocky Balboa was great, Rambo was great, and Live Free Or Die Hard was great. Indy 4 was meh, but nowhere near as bad as people make it out to be. Die Hard 2 sucks. Hard.