Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Die Hard 2: Die Harder

A vulgar cocaine sequel about an ego-driven maniac who is always right. Die Hard 2 recontextualises the vulnerable hero of the first film, taking a guy who has the ability to weep for his failed marriage and turning him into a Schwarzenegger analogue. Although he shares a writer credit on Die Hard, screenwriter Steven E de Souza isn't interested in constructing a progressive, mutation arc for John McClane. Die Hard 2 instead moves with the same mechanical grace as a mid-80s Austrian Oak film. In short, this McClane is an arrogant, insistent prick.

Die Hard posited a situation in which McClane fluked an inside track on the mayhem, thanks to his smarts, but mainly his geography. He was embedded. Die Hard 2 attempts something similar, but frames it on a hunch. Couple this with a sequel think that demands every stake possible be raised and you end up with a hero who spends the majority of the film seething and screaming at people. An interlude in which McClane accidentally roughs up a meek janitor, doesn't apologies, then shakes him down for blueprints is a particularly brutal structural grind.

Fortunately this overindulgence extends to everything in Die Harder. A tidal wave of invectives is matched by some truly nasty, brain haemorrhaging violence. This is unrestrained, unreconstructed male wish fulfilment cranked all the way up. Harder also enjoys a kind of mystique thanks to some BBFC deletions made on its original release. Trimmed for a 15 rating then incessantly beamed into my mind on pan and scan VHS, the 18 edit, complete with icicle injury detail, still registers as wonderfully, gleefully, excessive.

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