Die Hard 2

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Die Hard 2
Die Hard 2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRenny Harlin
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on
Music byMichael Kamen
CinematographyOliver Wood
Edited by
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 4, 1990 (1990-07-04)
Running time
124 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$62–70 million[2][3][4]
Box office$240.2 million[2]

Die Hard 2[Note 1] is a 1990 American action-thriller film and the second installment in the Die Hard film series. The film was released on July 4, 1990 in the United States.[1][failed verification] The film was directed by Renny Harlin, written by Steven E. deSouza and Doug Richardson and stars Bruce Willis[5] as John McClane. The film co-stars Bonnie Bedelia, William Sadler, Art Evans, William Atherton, Franco Nero, Dennis Franz, Fred Thompson, John Amos and Reginald VelJohnson.

The screenplay was adapted from Walter Wager's 1987 novel 58 Minutes. The novel has the same plot but differs slightly: a cop must stop terrorists who take an airport hostage while his wife's plane circles overhead, and has 58 minutes to do so before the plane crashes. Roderick Thorp, who wrote the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever, upon which Die Hard was based, receives credit for creating "certain original characters", although his name is misspelled onscreen as "Roderick Thorpe".

As with the first film, the action in Die Hard 2 takes place on Christmas Eve. McClane is waiting for his wife to land at Washington Dulles International Airport when terrorists take over the air traffic control system. He must stop the terrorists before his wife's plane and several other incoming flights that are circling the airport run out of fuel and crash. During the night, McClane must also contend with airport police and a military commander, none of whom want his assistance.

The film was preceded by Die Hard (1988) and followed by Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Live Free or Die Hard (2007), and A Good Day to Die Hard (2013).


On Christmas Eve 1990, two years after the Nakatomi Tower Incident, former New York city police officer John McClane is now working for the Los Angeles police department and is waiting at Washington Dulles International Airport for his wife Holly to arrive from Los Angeles. Reporter Richard Thornburg, who exposed Holly's identity to Hans Gruber in the Nakatomi Tower, is assigned a seat across the aisle from her. In the airport bar, McClane observes two men in Army fatigues behaving suspiciously and pursues them into the baggage area. After a shootout, McClane kills one of them, Oswald Cochrane, while the other escapes. Learning that Cochrane was believed to have been killed in action while serving in Honduras, McClane relates the situation to airport police captain Carmine Lorenzo, who bluntly dismisses his concerns.

Former U.S. Special Forces Colonel William Stuart and other former members of his unit establish a base in a church near Dulles. They hack into the air traffic control systems, sever communication with the planes, and deactivate the runway lights, leaving Dulles ATC powerless to land aircraft. Their goal is to rescue General Ramon Esperanza, a drug lord and dictator of Val Verde, who is being extradited to the United States to stand trial on drug trafficking charges. They demand a Boeing 747 cargo plane so they can escape to another country with Esperanza in tow, and warn the airport controllers not to try to restore control. With his wife on one of the planes circling above Washington, D.C. with too little fuel to be redirected, McClane prepares to fight the terrorists, allying himself with a janitor, Marvin, to gain larger access to the airport.

Dulles communications director Leslie Barnes heads to an unfinished antenna array with a SWAT team to re-establish communications with the planes but are ambushed by Stuart's henchmen and the SWAT team is killed in the ensuing firefight. McClane rescues Barnes and kills Stuart's men. Stuart retaliates by recalibrating the instrument landing system and then impersonating air traffic controllers to crash a British jetliner, killing everyone on board. A U.S. Army Special Forces team led by Major Grant is called in. By listening in on a two-way radio that was dropped by one of Stuart's henchmen, McClane finds out that Esperanza, having killed his captors and now piloting the plane carrying him to Dulles, is landing.

With Marvin's aid, McClane reaches the aircraft before Stuart's henchmen. Trapping him in the cockpit, the mercenaries throw in grenades, but McClane escapes via the ejection seat seconds before the grenades detonate. Barnes helps McClane locate the mercenaries' hideout, and they tell Grant and his team to raid the location, but the mercenaries escape on snowmobiles. McClane pursues them but is stunned to discover the mercenaries' guns are loaded with blanks, concluding that the Special Forces team are in fact Stuart's subordinates.

McClane demands Lorenzo intercept the Boeing 747 in which the mercenaries will escape; Lorenzo refuses to listen until an extremely fed up McClane fires at the Captain with the blank gun, thus proving his story. Aboard Holly's flight, a suspicious Thornburg is monitoring airport radio traffic and learns about the situation from a secret transmission to the circling planes from Barnes. He phones in a sensational and exaggerated take on what is happening, leading to panic and preventing the officers from reaching the escape plane, until Holly subdues Thornburg with a stun gun.

McClane hitches a ride on a news helicopter that drops him off on the wing of the taxiing mercenaries' 747. He jams the left inboard aileron with his jacket, preventing the plane from taking off. Grant fights McClane, but is knocked off the wing and falls into an engine, killing him. Stuart succeeds in knocking McClane off the plane and removing McClane's jacket, but fails to notice that McClane had opened the fuel hatch. McClane uses his cigarette lighter to ignite the trail of fuel which leads up to the jet, and causes it to explode, killing the mercenaries, Esperanza, and Stuart. The circling planes use the fire trail to help them land. As the other passengers on board are rescued, Holly and McClane happily embrace.


Additional cast members include Stuart's henchmen: Don Harvey as Garber, John Costelloe as Sergeant Oswald Cochrane, Vondie Curtis-Hall as Miller, John Leguizamo as Burke, Robert Patrick as O'Reilly, Tom Verica as Kahn, Tony Ganios as Baker, Michael Cunningham as Sheldon, Peter Nelson as Thompson, Ken Baldwin as Mulkey, and Mark Boone Junior as Shockley. Robert Costanzo appears as Sgt. Vito Lorenzo, Carmine's brother and towing supervisor. Patrick O'Neal appears as Telford, Major Grant's radio operator. Colm Meaney appears as the pilot of the Windsor Airlines flight crashed through Stuart's machinations.

Production and promotion[edit]

Die Hard 2 was the first film to use digitally composited live-action footage with a traditional matte painting that had been photographed and scanned into a computer. It was used for the last scene, which took place on a runway.[6]

One of the writers of the screenplay, Steven E. de Souza, later admitted in an interview for the book Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie that the villains were based on America's "Central American" meddling, primarily the Iran–Contra affair.[7]

Of the film's budget, Bruce Willis was paid $7.5 million for reprising his role for the film.[8][9]


Box office[edit]

The film exceeded all expectations by outdoing the massive box office success of Die Hard.[10] The film had a $62–70 million budget[11] and had a wide release in 2,507 theaters, making $21.7 million its opening weekend. Die Hard 2 domestically made $117.5 million, and $122.5 million internationally, earning over $240 million worldwide,[12] almost doubling that of Die Hard. The film was re-released internationally in 1993 and made $216,339 more, which totaled its gross to $240.2 million.[1]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 69% based on 64 reviews, with an average rating of 6.15/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "It lacks the fresh thrills of its predecessor, but Die Hard 2 still works as an over-the-top – and reasonably taut – big-budget sequel, with plenty of set pieces to paper over the plot deficiencies."[13] On the review aggregator Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating to reviews, the film has a score of 67 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[14] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[15]

Roger Ebert, who gave the original film a mixed review, described the sequel as "terrific entertainment", despite noting substantial credibility problems with the plot.[16] Jay Boyar of the Orlando Sentinel dubbed the film as being as disappointing a sequel as Another 48 Hrs. and RoboCop 2, and said,

Whatever small pleasure there is to be found in this loud dud is due mostly to the residual good feelings from the first film... As played by Bruce Willis, McClane is still an engaging character, even if he is much less amusingly drawn this time. Willis is in there trying, but the qualities that helped to make his character sympathetic in the first film are missing. McClane no longer worries openly about his personal safety, as he did in the original movie. His quasi-cowboy personality from Die Hard is all but forgotten – he has become more of a Rambo and less of a Roy Rogers. And though the filmmakers try to establish McClane as resistant to advanced technology, this promising idea isn't developed.[17]

Empire magazine rated the film three out of five stars, while stating, "It's entertaining nonsense that doesn't quite manage to recapture the magic of the original. Still, there are some nice moments here, and Willis is on solid ground as the iconic McClane."[18]

Gene Siskel ranked the film as the sixth best movie of 1990.[19][20] Maxim magazine ranked the film's plane crash #2 on its list of "Greatest Movie Plane Crashes".[21]

Home media[edit]

The film debuted on video in the United States in February 1991 and was the most rented video in its first week above Navy SEALs[22] and sold a record 505,000 units for rental.[23]

The film had its DVD debut on 10 January 2000 and re-released again in early 2005 as a Widescreen Edition and June 19, 2007, followed by a Blu-ray release on November 20, 2007 and a re-release on January 29, 2013.[24]


  1. ^ The film's onscreen title is Die Hard 2, as also given at the initial home-video release's official website. The film's original advertising used "Die Harder" as a tagline, and many releases of the film (e.g. the 2006 DVD release and 2007 Blu-ray release) were marketed under the title Die Hard 2: Die Harder.


  1. ^ a b c "Box Office Mojo Die Hard 2". Box office Mojo. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Die Hard 2 (1990)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  3. ^ "Bruce Willis: Where Am I?". Newsweek. Retrieved April 20, 2020. ...What did they spend that reported $62 million on making 'Die Hard 2'?
  4. ^ Greenburg, James (May 26, 1991). "Film; Why the 'Hudson Hawk' Budget Soared So High". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2020. ...'Die Hard 2' (1990), which also ran over budget and wound up costing a reported $70 million.
  5. ^ Heritage, Stuart (June 21, 2013). "Die Hard 2 recap: 'Insane bloodlust, gratuitous profanity, zero logic'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  6. ^ Leonard, Matt. "The History of Computer Graphics and Effects". Ohio State University Department of Industrial Interior and Visual Design. Archived from the original on May 17, 2007. Retrieved July 10, 2009.
  7. ^ Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie, page 165
  8. ^ Die Hard 2 at the American Film Institute Catalog
  9. ^ "Battle of the Biceps". People Magazine. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  10. ^ Tom Sherak (commentator) (May 19, 1995). Die Hard with a Vengeance (DVD). Beverly Hills, California: 20th Century Fox. Event occurs at 35:12. Die Hard 2 actually, as I recall, did better than Die Hard 1, which is very unusual. Sequels normally do about 65% of their original, but this one just exploded.
  11. ^ Easton, Nina J. (September 5, 1990). "Hollywood's Summer of Love : Romantic 'Ghost' Outguns Macho Movies to Become Season's Biggest Hit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
  12. ^ "Box Office Mojo Die Hard 2 (1990)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  13. ^ Die Hard 2 at Rotten Tomatoes
  14. ^ Die Hard 2 at Metacritic. CBS Interactive.
  15. ^ "CinemaScore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 3, 1990). "Die Hard 2: Die Harder (Review)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
  17. ^ Boyar, Jay (July 3, 1990). "'Die Hard' – 2nd Time Around The Mayhem Misses Mark In 'Harder'". Orlando Sentinel. Florida. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  18. ^ Thomas, William (October 14, 2015). "Die Hard 2 Review". Empire. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  19. ^ "Gene Siskel's Top Ten Lists 1969–1998". Alumnus.caltech.edu. February 20, 1999. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  20. ^ "Siskel and Ebert Top Ten Lists (1969–1998)". Innermind.com. May 3, 2012. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  21. ^ "The Greatest Movie Plane Crashes". Maxim.
  22. ^ "Top 50 Video Titles". Variety. February 11, 1991. p. 35.
  23. ^ Berman, Marc (January 6, 1992). "Rentals Reap Bulk of 1991 Vid Harvest". Variety. p. 22.
  24. ^ "Die Hard 2 DVD Release Date". DVDs Release Dates. Retrieved May 22, 2018.

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