Picks and Pans Review: Die Hard 2

updated 07/16/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/16/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia

One might think a movie with a reported budget of $62 million would have had a few bucks to spend on a gaffe spotter.

For instance, Willis, again playing cop John McClane, opens the film at Dulles International Airport. This is outside Washington, D.C., but not so far outside that the pay phones—prominent during one long scene—should be labeled Pacific Bell.

Then there's the central plot: that terrorists seize Dulles so they can spring a Latin American drug lord from custody. The villains threaten to turn off all the guidance equipment so planes won't be able to land, will run out of fuel and crash. A fleet of airliners proceeds to meekly circle the field for two hours, even though dozens of alternate fields are within range of two hours' fuel.

Meanwhile Willis, who is on to the scheme, runs miles around the airport, terminal to tower to runway and back. Then the bad guys trap him in a plane's cockpit. They spray only 17,000 rounds or so into the plane, so it's understandable they don't even wound him. But when they toss grenades in the cockpit windows, Willis has time to lie there, note he is being bombarded with grenades, lie there some more, think of a way out, notice the grenades are still there, scramble into the pilot's seat, fasten the seat belt, then trigger the ejector seat.

One could go on, and director Renny (Nightmare on Elm Street 4) Harlin does.

Willis, though he has perfected his ability to roll on the ground really fast so he can avoid being shot, is limited as an action hero. Bedelia is fun as Willis's wife, who is on one of the circling planes. But Reginald VelJohnson, whose radio relationship with Willis was one of Die Hard's best touches, has only a small role in this sequel.

While the film is co-written (with Doug Richardson) by Steven E. de Souza, who wrote Die Hard and such other admirable caper-adventure films as 48Hrs., the script is as big a dud as those hand grenades.

The language is macho baloney-rec room commando stuff: "Let's kick ass" and, in a VelJohnson-Willis exchange about Bruce's buttinsky tendencies, "You're not pissing in somebody's pool, are you?" "Yeah, and I'm fresh out of chlorine."

When one character shouts "Code red!" and another responds "Sitrep!," everyone in the theater ought to stand up and yell, "Gobble! Gobble!" (R)

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