The original “Die Hard” was a near-perfect action film, putting a reluctant hero in a confined skyscraper setting, facing him off against memorable villains and treating the whole enterprise with wit, style and imagination. It made Bruce Willis a movie star, established Alan Rickman as a classic villain and made a fortune at the box office back in 1988.
So, naturally, there were imitations, all following the formula of a lone hero stuck battling badguys in a distinct location. There was Die Hard on a Bus (“Speed”), Die Hard on a Boat (“Speed 2”), Die Hard on a Plane (“Passenger 57”), Die Hard on a Mountain (“Cliffhanger”) and even Die Hard at the Stanley Cup (“Sudden Death”). Unfortunately, there was also the official sequel, Die Hard at an Airport, better known as “Die Hard 2.”
It’s no surprise that Hollywood rushed out a sequel to “Die Hard” a mere two years after the original hit theater screens. What is surprising is how everything that went right the first time around was royally screwed up for Part 2. The elegantly simple skyscraper setting was swapped for a sprawling, confusing airport. Poor Al Powell, who played so nicely off our hero in the original film was relegated to a mere cameo here. The diabolical Hans Gruber (Rickman) was replaced by a whole bunch of villains, none of them especially memorable. And Bruce Willis, whose wisecracking asides made the original “Die Hard” special — and refreshingly human — came across as an asshole this time around, strutting through the movie arrogantly, making most of it a genuine pain to watch.
But since it was Christmas and we praised “Die Hard” last year, we figured we’d focus on the sequel this year. And, like most things associated with 2016, it felt like a bad joke by the time we were done. The movie has its moments, but they’re few and far between, and only veteran actors John Amos and Fred Thompson make much of an impression. So if you want to hear Billy and Will talk about a movie neither of them much cared for, this is the episode for you!
Thankfully, “Die Hard 2” isn’t the only thing they talk about. There’s also a discussion of the just-released “Star Wars” prequel, “Rogue One,” and an unfortunately timely tribute to the late Carrie Fisher, whose death was reported hours before the podcast was recorded. May the Force be with her. And, hell, with you, too.