Die Hard Wiki
Die Hard 2 theatrical poster
Written by Walter Wager (novel)
Steven E. de Souza
Doug Richardson
Directed by Renny Harlin
Produced by Charles Gordon
Lawrence Gordon
Joel Silver
Starring Bruce Willis
William Sadler
Bonnie Bedelia
Dennis Franz
John Amos
Franco Nero
Music by Michael Kamen
Cinematography by Oliver Wood
Editing by Stuart Baird
Robert A. Ferretti
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release Date July 4, 1990
Budget $70,000,000 (est.)
Preceded by Die Hard
Followed by Die Hard with a Vengeance

Die Hard 2: Die Harder is a 1990 film, the second in the Die Hard series. It stars Bruce Willis, reprising his role as New York police detective John McClane, and co-stars Bonnie Bedelia (reprising her role as Holly McClane), William Sadler, William Atherton, Dennis Franz, Fred Dalton Thompson, and John Amos.

McClane is waiting for his wife to land at Dulles International Airport in Washington DC when terrorists take over air controls. 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.

The movie is based on a novel by Walter Wager entitled 58 Minutes. The novel has the same premise: a cop must stop terrorists who take an airport hostage while his wife's plane circles overhead. He has 58 minutes to do so before the plane crashes.

Die Hard 2 was followed by Die Hard with a Vengeance in 1995, Live Free or Die Hard in 2007 and A Good Day to Die Hard in 2013.

While lacking the huge impact of the original, the movie was a box-office success and received a reasonably positive critical reception. Critic Roger Ebert, while noting the not-insubstantial plot credibility problems with the movie, described it as "terrific entertainment."


  • "Die Harder."
  • "They say lightning never strikes twice... They were wrong"
  • "John McClane, terrorist, and in a airport. Nothing can go wrong this time"
  • "Last time, it blew you through the back wall of the theater. This time, it will blow you sky high!"
  • "Yippee Ki Yay, All over again!"
  • "I hate it when I'm right."
  • "Look who's back in the wrong place at the right time."


Main article: In-depth synopsis of Die Hard 2

The story begins on Christmas Eve 1990, two years after the Nakatomi Plaza incident. John McClane is at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.. As he waits for his wife Holly to arrive from California, airport police tow away his in-laws' car and give him a parking ticket. Hanging out at an airport lounge, McClane sees a group of men, dressed in Army fatigues, pass a package between them and disappear into a restricted area. He follows, and a fight ensues in which McClane kills one of the men, but the second man gets away.

McClane confronts the head of the airport police, the hotheaded Captain Carmine Lorenzo, who dismisses McClane's report as punks stealing luggage, despite the fact that one of the assailants was wielding a rare porcelain gun designed to evade metal detectors. McClane storms off to investigate on his own, taking fingerprints from the corpse and faxing them to his friend, LAPD officer Al Powell, who runs them through several databases. The resulting records indicates that the man, Sergeant Oswald Cochrane was an American advisor and had been declared officially dead even before the fight, leading McClane to suspect that he had been part of a plot to seize control of the airport.

Which is exactly the truth: as weather conditions worsen, a vengeful rogue US Army officer, Colonel Stuart, prepares to hold the approaching planes and their passengers and crew hostage until he can free a former Central American general and drug lord, Ramon Esperanza; the deposed despot is arriving at the airport under guard. Stuart has set up his operational base in a nearby church after shooting the owner and has hacked directly into Dulles' communications and air traffic control.

McClane sneaks into the airport's control tower and confronts the head of air traffic control, Trudeau, just as Stuart commences his operation and takes control of the airport. McClane is chased out from the tower; as he descends in the elevator with reporter Samantha Coleman, she tips him to the presence of Stuart. McClane slips out of the elevator and into the underground maintenance area of the airport, where he gains assistance from an airport janitor named Marvin.

Trudeau and his controllers contact the approaching planes and inform the cabin crews (without mentioning the terrorists) that they must circle the airport. Trudeau’s communications director, Leslie Barnes, takes a team to a new antenna outpost at the skywalk to restore unbugged communication with the planes. He and Lorenzo’s SWAT team are attacked by a detachment of Stuart’s men, result the death in all Five SWAT officers and a lost of one of Stuart's men, Shockley. Fortunately, McClane heard about the auxiliary outpost while in the tower, and just as Barnes is about to be killed, McClane emerges and kills Stuart’s three team members, O'Reilly, Sheldon and Mulkey. Stuart retaliates by crashing a British jet, killing everyone on board, when it severely explodes. Barnes later warns the plans about the terrorist situation using the Outer Marker, the radio beaker without the terrorist's knowledge.

McClane returns to the underground maintenance level, where two-way radio dropped by one of Stuart’s crew tells him that Esperanza is about to arrive in his now-commandeered plane; he has killed his guard and the pilots. McClane rushes to the runway and briefly apprehends Esperanza, before Stuart and his men show up to retrieve the general themselves. McClane kills Thompson and hides in the cockpit of Esperanza’s plane, but Stuart and his crew toss grenades inside, forcing McClane to strap himself into the pilot’s ejector seat and escape the resulting blast by engaging the eject function.

An Army Special Forces unit arrives at the airport. Their leader, Major Grant, once served with Stuart and claims to know his tactics. Barnes surmises that Stuart’s command post is near the airport, and he and McClane find the church where Stuart is hiding. Shortly after McClane kills Baker, one of Stuart's guards, Grant and his squad show up and a gunfight ensues. Stuart, his men, and Esperanza escape on snowmobiles. McClane chases after them. He kills Burke and Garber and takes a machine gun in possession, but his new gun proves strangely ineffective. McClane checks the weapon and finds that the bullets are blanks.

McClane returns to the airport security office and announces to Lorenzo that Grant and Stuart are actually working together; for "emphasis" McClane fires his submachine gun (still loaded with blanks) at Lorenzo. Finally convinced, Lorenzo mobilizes his police to converge on the hangar containing the Evergreen Boeing 747 that Stuart has demanded as an escape vehicle.

Meanwhile, circling above the airport, Holly has unexpectedly found herself in the same plane as Richard Thornburg, the news reporter who had endangered her and John during their previous meeting. As the terrorists' plans unfold both Holly and Thornburg begin to realize that something is amiss; this culminates in Thornburg listening into the tower radio transmissions, learning about the crisis and making a live news report from aboard the plane. The crowds in the airport are thrown into a panic, which greatly hampers McClane's and Lorenzo's efforts to apprehend Stuart. Holly zaps Thornburg unconscious with a fellow passenger's stun gun. With no way to communicate with the tower, the plane begins to attempt a landing and every one assumes crash positions.

At the army truck, Grant kills the soldier not loyal to Stuart's cause. He and his men meet up with Esperanza, Stuart and his two remaining men, Miller and Kahn at the remote hanger and got onboard the 747.

McClane hitches a ride in Coleman's news helicopter to the villains' plane, which is taxiing for takeoff. He manages to jump onto the wing and finds himself in hand-to-hand combat with Major Grant. Grant is sucked through one of the plane’s engines and killed, but Stuart takes up the fight and kicks McClane off the wing. As he falls, McClane opens the fuel hatch on the engine. McClane uses his cigarette lighter to ignite the spilling fuel, which burns right up to the plane even as it takes off, causing it to explode, killing everyone inside and avenging over 200 innocents. It also provides a landing light for the other planes, which all touch down safely. Emergency services arrive and begin evacuating the air passengers, including Holly and a badly-shaken Thornburg. McClane and Holly joyfully reunite, Lorenzo tears up McClane's parking ticket as a Christmas gift, and Marvin takes the couple home.


Law Enforcement[]

Passengers/Airline Crew[]

Special Forces Terrorists[]

Dulles International Tower Personnel[]


Production and promotion[]


Die Hard 2 DVD cover.

Die Hard 2 was the first movie to have a digitally-manipulated matte painting. It was used for the last scene, which took place on a runway.[1]

The movie was not filmed at Dulles, but at many other locations. Many of the airport terminal shots were from LAX in Los Angeles, other shots were from many runways of other airports, such as of Denver's now-closed Stapleton International Airport. This was done mainly because the producers needed an area that had frequent and consistent snowfall, which Denver has. (Ironically, according to the special edition DVD features, Denver suffered from an unseasonably unsnowy winter that year; in at least one scene, the crew had to make do with fake snow, including "snow" made from painted cornflakes.) Some runway scenes were also shot at Chippewa County International Airport in Kinross, Michigan.

When the film was shown at a cinema in Pretoria, South Africa, a light airplane was hoisted onto the roof of a local multiplex as promotion for the film. This advert backfired as the sight of the airplane caused serious car accidents near the cinema.

The Range Rover used by Colonel Stuart and his men in the scene when they meet Esperanza belonged to director Renny Harlin.

Die Hard 2 - Japanese Poster

Japanese poster for Die Hard 2.

Box office and critical response[]

Die Hard 2 is the most successful of the series in the U.S. market so far. The movie debuted at #1, grossing $21,744,661 in its opening weekend. It went on to finish with $117,540,947 domestically. Overseas the movie grossed $122,000,000, giving it a $239,540,947 worldwide total. It became the 7th biggest hit worldwide in 1990.

The critical response, while still positive, wasn't as good as it was for the first film. Die Hard 2 is currently holding a rating of 69% on Rotten Tomatoes while on MetaCritic has a 67/100. The film was highly praised for it's action and effects, and especially applauded for the realism of the plane crash sequence in which a full sized commercial jet plows into the airport runway.

MaximOnline.com named the airplane crash in the film as #2 on its list of "Most Horrific Movie Plane Crashes."[2]



External links[]

Die Hard
Films Die Hard -- Die Hard 2 -- Die Hard with a Vengeance -- Live Free or Die Hard -- A Good Day to Die Hard
Games Die Hard -- Die Hard 2 -- Arcade -- Trilogy -- Trilogy 2 -- Nakatomi Plaza -- Vendetta -- Die Hard 5
Comic Die Hard: Year One