An over-inflated mishmash that compels the audience to sift through a lot of rubble for the few requisite thrills, this second Die Hard sequel leaves a lot of creative wreckage in its wake. Despite the pumped-up volume and budget, this is certainly the least accomplished of the three movies, tracing a scattered plotline that’s at times virtually indecipherable.
Even the premise – with Jeremy Irons as as the terrorist brother of the late Hans Gruber, the character played deliciously in the first film by Alan Rickman – doesn’t provide much punch. Movie also benefits only sparingly from its Lethal Weapon-like rapport between Bruce Willis’ John McClane and a Harlem shopkeeper (portrayed by the ubiquitous Samuel L. Jackson) unwillingly drawn into the action, as their bickering eventually grows tiresome.
These shortcomings emerge after a promising start, with Simon (Irons) blowing up a department store, then sending McClane – down on his luck, nearly alcoholic and on suspension – on a series of errands to prevent further explosions.
By happenstance he meets Zeus (Jackson), and the two take a hellbent ride through New York to prevent a subway explosion in perhaps the pic’s crowning technical achievement. So far, so good, but then the pic degenerates into an improbable, confusing series of chases and an overly involved heist that takes far too long to set up.
The original script by Jonathan Hensleigh wasn’t initially written for the series, and some of the incongruity between the property and the necessities of such a huge action yarn shows. Irons, for example, proves a snide but relatively uninspired villain, and the movie lacks the self-contained simplicity of the earlier films by failing to settle on a venue, instead scampering all over town. Willis doesn’t add much to his by now familiar combination of wise-cracking and heroism as McClane.