Sunday, January 16, 2011

Die Hard II, Die Harder (* * *)

It is a mystery to me why Roger Ebert would give just 2.5 stars to Air Force One, and 3.5 stars to Die Hard II.   In his review for Die Hard II, he talks about how skillfully director Renny Harlin crafted this film.  There may to truth to this, but I disdained the direction because Die Hard II is a completely absurd movie, littered with clichés, annoying arguments, non stop foul language, and plot holes big enough to fly a plane through.   Although Air Force One may not be perfect, it is somewhat more plausible.  Ebert thinks that Air Force One is recycled from other action movies, but given that, you would think that he never saw Die Hard II, which feels like it is recycled from a a bunch of bad 70's films.  This is a formula picture if there ever was one.  So I think that Air Force One is the movie Die Hard II should have been.

Despite how completely absurd the movie is, it sort of works.  There is a suspense that carries the movie.  As I watched it, no matter how silly the movie seemed, I kept wanting to see what would happen next.    Maybe this is what Ebert means by skillful direction.  I despise the script, but the movie has enough action sequences to drag the audience along from one scene to the next.  For me, the movie was a kind of guilty pleasure;  It was something I could enjoy if I didn't think about it too hard.  (In fact, it helps to not think at all.)   If the goal of the movie is to be a mindless summer action picture, then it succeeds in both respects.

For this reason, I reluctantly give the film three stars.  If you like action movies, then it is probably worth seeing once, but only once.  All the other Die Hard movies are better.

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