Film / Die Hard 2

"Oh man, I can't fucking believe this. Another basement, another elevator. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?"

The second film in the popular Die Hard film franchise.

Bruce Willis returns as New York City police officer John McClane, who is at Washington's Dulles International Airport waiting for his wife Holly to arrive for Christmas with her parents. Unknown to McClane, the government has extradited wanted dictator Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero) from Val Verde to the United States to stand trial for allegations of drug trafficking at around the same time. A group of rogue ex-US army soldiers loyal to Esperanza, led by the rogue Colonel Stuart (William Sadler), attempt to rescue the corrupt ex-general by taking over Dulles's control systems and holding all of the planes hostage in the air. McClane figures out what's going on, which leads him to work against the airport's on-site law enforcement to stop Colonel Stuart before any of the planes — especially Holly's — run out of fuel and crash.

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: Yet again, though this time it's much larger and McClane uses it as a way to make a surprise attack on Stuart's painter henchmen.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: John empties an entire magazine from Garber's machine gun to demonstrate it's loaded with blanks, and does so when it's pointed at an officer. A good example of Show, Don't Tell, to be sure, but incredibly reckless — in real life, any dirt in the barrel or cartridges would have been shot out and could have injured the guy. John was also lucky to have not been shot by all the other officers standing about 20 feet away (since the scene lasts well over five seconds).
  • Artistic License – Law:
    • Lorenzo accuses McClane of violating five District of Columbia regulations. Washington Dulles International Airport is actually in Loudon County, Virginia, about 25 miles west of Washington D.C. So the laws actually broken would be based on local ordinances, or whatever is stipulated by the MWAA.
    • There are a number of FAA regulations that, if applied during this movie, would make Stuart's plot impossible to implement. Two notable ones are that the cockpit of a plane in the air must be listening in on an emergency broadcast frequency (which any other airport in the area could have used to warn the planes off after Dulles' transmitter went offline), and any airfield capable of receiving an airplane in distress must let them land (There are three civilian and one military airports in the immediate DC area including Dulles, so it's not like losing Dulles would leave the planes with nowhere to land).
    • Lorenzo is stated to be a Captain and wears Captain's bars on his uniform, but when he orders a mobilisation after McClane reveals the plot, he addresses himself as Chief, a distinct rank.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Thompson adjusting ILS to set ground level for 200' below actual ground level in order to crash the plane. This is not possible because the ILS system uses antennas mounted on the ground around the runway which send out signals to the receiving plane. The system is based on how far and where the plane is relative to the antennas. The antennas would have to be physically moved underground in order to change where the ILS glide scope would be. If they were put 200' below ground, the signals would not reach an airplane.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The fact that this has now happened twice is referred to a number of times, often for comic relief...
    • "You know, just once, I'd like a regular, normal Christmas. Eggnog, a fuckin' Christmas tree, a little turkey... But no, I have to crawl around in this motherfuckin' tin can."
    • "Another basement, another elevator. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?"
  • Bait the Dog: Played straight with Major Grant.
  • Banana Republic: Esperanza was the dictator of a small South American country known as Val Verde. Yes, that Val Verde.
  • Batman Gambit: After Stuart warns the Dulles airport police not to attempt to restore air traffic control, they think they can easily do it anyway by going out to the Skywalk where they can access the system. This leads the SWAT team right into in an ambushnote 
  • Beard of Evil: Esperanza sports one.
  • Big Bad: Colonel Stuart, who tries to release Esperanza, the Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Bittersweet Ending: McClane defeats Stuart and his gang, and he is reunited with his wife as her plane makes a crash landing. Unfortunately, 230 innocent people are dead due to Stuart's misguiding of a plane to crash, and many families will have a horrible Christmas day mourning for their deceased loved ones.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted. Miller, the sole black soldier on Stuart's unit, is one of the last to die.
    • Severely inverted with the Annex Skywalk shootout, where the only black person present, Barnes, is the sole survivor of the initial ambush.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The violence is generally bloodier and far more explicit than the previous entry's brutal but otherwise subdued and quick-cut bloodletting. With slow-motion headshots, heads being crushed, an icicle being stabbed into a mook's eye socket, and the death of an entire airliner's worth of innocent bystanders, this is by far the bloodiest, goriest, and most violent entry in the series. In fact, the film's initial cut earned in an NC-17 rating from the MPAA before studio-mandated re-edits. To date, this is the only film to have received a rating higher than an R. This may be owing, in part, to director Renny Harlin's background in effects-driven horror movies.
  • Bond One-Liner: These are done for drama:
    • Thompson, into a radio after Baker kills the church custodian: "This is Buckwheat. The clubhouse is open."
    • Stuart has two:
      • After crashing a plane: "That concludes our object lesson for this evening. If the 747 we requested is ready on time and General Esperanza's plane arrives unmolested, further lessons can be avoided. Out."
      • After blowing up McClane's snowmobile: "So much for the element of chance! Let's move out!"
  • Book-Ends: One of the first things to happen in the film is McClane's car being towed to the impound. One of the last things to occur is McClane's parking violation being forgiven.
  • Boom, Headshot: The shoot-out with the SWAT team starts with O'Reilly shooting a cop in the head.
    Hey, asshole. What do I look like?
    A sitting duck.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Subverted: McClane accompanies Major Grant's team to the church shootout with Stuart and his men. Before they start the move, we see them load blue-taped magazines into their submachine guns. They take out the whole base...McClane takes out Garber and Burke and takes Garber's submachine gun and snowmobile to chase Stuart. However, as Stuart, Kahn and Burke lie in wait to ambush McClane, Stuart changes a blue-tape magazine for one with red tape, and he sprays it as McClane's snowmobile approaches, causing the snowmobile to explode. McClane later realizes that they reloaded the guns with blanks.
    • Although, considering that the MP5s they use fire from a closed bolt, there should have been at least one live round fired apiece.
    • Double Subverted with McClane himself. He's shown reloading just once while pinned down under the scaffolding in the Skywalk shootout, but he clearly fires more than twenty rounds between reloads, and he never runs out of magazines.
  • Bowdlerise: the TV edit gives us the infamous "Yippie-ki-yay MISTER FALCON."
    • It also gives us this almost nonsensical line during a scene between McClane and Captain Lorenzo:
    McClane: Let me ask you, what sets off the metal detector first? The lead in your hat [ass] or the junk [shit] in your brains?
    • The TV version is made even more hilariously bad by the fact that a good chunk of McClane's lines in the film have profanity, and the guy they got to dub his lines sounds NOTHING like him.
    • The "Mister Falcon" line itself at least has a bit of relevance in hindsight, given that Esperanza's code name is Falcon.
    • Older British theatrical and video copies had roughly half of the excessive use of "sexual expletitives" dubbed over, muted, or removed entirely to appease the censors. The only time profanity is muted is when Bruce Willis utters them, perhaps because he was unavailable to re-record lines.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: When crashing Windsor Flight 114, Colonel Stuart takes on a Southern twang to impersonate the aiport approach controller, then uses his normal voice when posing as the tower.
  • Brick Joke and Book Ends: In the opening few minutes, John gets his car towed away and a ticket from an unreasonable airport cop, who turns out to be Lorenzo's brother Vito. In the end, Lorenzo sternly confronts John about the ticket, then tears it up in gratitude for his help.
  • Crash-Into Hello: Early in the movie, McClane is shouldering his way through the crowded terminal when he crashes into Colonel Stuart.
    Colonel Stuart: Excuse me. [He glares at McClane]
    John McClane: Oh, you look very familiar to me.
    Colonel Stuart: I get that a lot. I've been on TV. [Stuart starts walking away]
    John McClane: Yeah. Me too. [We see Stuart glance over his shoulder at McClane as if there is something familiar about the guy, as he disappears into the crowd]
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The fight moves we see Colonel Stuart practicing (naked) in the beginning are the exact same ones he uses to kick John's ass at the end.
    • The radio with the inputted password that Marvin has come into possession of. If you watch McClane's fight with Miller in the baggage belt room, you'll see that Miller's radio is dropped on the floor if you watch it frame by frame.
    • With a more humorous (though still awesome) bent, the old lady's stun gun.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Early into the plot, Stuart is warned about a last minute change. Later, McClane talks to a soldier that mentions he was brought in at the last minute because another soldier was ill. Grant kills that same soldier, revealing that he is actually working with Stuart.
  • *Click* Hello: As Esperanza's plane is coming in to land:
    Colonel Stuart: [impersonating the tower] Dulles Tower, Foxtrot Michael One. Dulles Tower to Foxtrot Michael One.
    Pilot (Foreign Military One): This is Foxtrot Michael One, Dulles. We read you, over.
    Colonel Stuart: Foxtrot Michael One, you are to come in on Runway 1-5. I repeat: 1-5.
    Pilot (Foreign Military One): This is contrary to our instructions. We are to land at Runway 1-0, where we are to be met by representatives of your Justice Dep-[click!]
    Gen. Ramon Esperanza: Captain, please tell the tower you will proceed as ordered.
    [the pilot looks at his co-pilot, who glares back at him, then looks back at Esperanza, who is glaring with agreement]
    Pilot (Foreign Military One): Roger, Dulles. Proceeding to Runway 1-5.
  • Combat Pragmatist: McClane beats the villains with a cigarette lighter, setting a destructive Vapor Trail with it.
  • Compromising Call: The conveniences of the 90's conspire against McClane, as Holly calls his pager from a skyphone. The first time is harmless, as McClane is just waiting at the airport, but the second time, after the plot's in high gear, it's far more hazardous. That time, McClane is trying to sneak towards the church that the terrorists are using as a base, and the pager alerts the guard.
  • Cop Killer: Stuart baits Lorenzo into sending his entire SWAT team out into the open, where they are promptly massacred before Mc Clane can stop them.
  • Cowboy Cop: Chief Carmine Lorenzo distrusts McClane, due to this. Ironically they initially clash over Chief Lorenzo disregarding police procedure.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The film features two: the airport SWAT team vs Colonel Stuart's mooks, and Stuart vs McClane. In both cases, the good guys didn't have a chance.
  • Darker and Edgier: The film is easily the darkest of the series. Colonel Stuart ends up having the highest body count of any villain in the films, including crashing an airliner full of passengers, including children, killing everybody on board. The movie itself is much more graphic than the others, with highlights including Baker and Grant's deaths.
  • Death of a Child: Children are seen aboard the Windsor flight when Stuart causes it to crash land. As the rescue teams desperately search for survivors among the flaming wreckage, McClane finds a scorched baby doll.
  • Determinator: McClane, of course. Also, Richard Thornburg is really determined to get the story, although for selfish reasons.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The way Windsor Airlines Flight 114 crash lands and explodes in a fireball with debris scattering everywhere as it careens down the runway looks eerily similar to the crash of United Airlines Flight 232 in Sioux City just a year before the film was released.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: Used as a code phrase in a deleted scene, when O'Reilly radios "This is Alice. We're down the rabbit hole," to Colonel Stuart after he and Sheldon shoot a pair of painters and commandeer their van.
  • The Dragon: The movie seems completely devoid of a Dragon. Until you find out that Major Grant is in on it.
  • '80s Hair: Holly, once again.
  • Elevator Escape: John and Samantha are thrown out of the control tower by Chief Lorenzo, who calls on his radio for two uniformed airport police to escort the two of them out of the airport. McClain decides to repeat his action from the first film, and climbs through the access panel onto the roof of the elevator. When the two officers show up, Samantha walks out of the elevator alone.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: After Colonel Stuart crash-lands Windsor Airlines Flight 114, McClane finds one of these dolls as he wanders through the wreckage. There is a scene on the workprint showing the child who had this doll, but this was cut for obvious reasons.
  • Eureka Moment: Chasing the terrorists on a snowmobile with one of their own weapons, McClane is nearly killed. He wonders how he could have missed at such range as he checks the gun and finds it's full of blanks. McClane realizes the only reason the terrorists would be using blanks in the "firefight" with the Special Forces unit is if they knew the Unit was using blanks too. And the only way they could know that...Oh, Crap!.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Colonel Stuart crash-lands Windsor Airlines Flight 114. When it hits the ground at a faster-than-normal speed, the landing gear collapses, and the fuel tanks rupture and ignite, causing the fuselage to explode in a fireball... despite one of the reasons it tried to land in the first place was because it was running out of fuel. However unless the plane has a fuel inerting system (which is still uncommon), an almost empty fuel tank is more dangerous, since the fuel vapors mixed with air are actually explosive, and there is less space for them if the tank is fullnote . Which made the other exploding plane all the more implausible.
  • Eye Scream: Baker is defeated at the church by McClane stabbing an icicle through his eye socket. Even McClane seems disgusted by it as he turns away, repulsed.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Takes place over a few hours in one night.
  • Face–Heel Turn: While riding in the truck, Major Grant slits the throat of one of his men revealing that he and the rest of the special forces were working with Colonel Stuart the whole time.
  • Failed a Spot Check: There's no excuse for why the pilots of the Windsor didn't look at their altimeter and realized how close they were to the ground, or why there is no ground-proximity warning system on the plane to warn them when they are about to hit the ground. But then again Rule of Cool.
  • Fanservice: Colonel Stuart likes to do his karate shirtless.
    • And pantless!
  • Foreshadowing: There's quite a few hints that Major Grant is working with Colonel Stuart both in the different color tape for the gun magazines and there's one point near the beginning when Garber is telling Stuart that someone got sick and a replacement was brought in. Grant's radioman is the replacement.
    • He even grabs the note Carmine is writing, with the location of the bad guys, and says they had their location, without even reading it or hearing any announcement.
    • Also, when Grant is snarling threats at Stuart on the communicator, Stuart and his men are smiling broadly. While it looks like they're just chuckling at the boasts, it turns out they're getting a kick out of Grant hamming it up for the cops.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: The bad guys are an ex-military unit and a currently active one led by Major Grant who violently disagree with a changing US foreign policy, and are attempting to free The Generalissimo who was once a US ally during the Cold War but has since been overthrown and is being put on trial for his crimes.
  • Gambit Roulette: Crossing into psychic / dumb luck territory; Stuarts' plan relies heavily on how bad the weather is on one particular day. As well as somehow knowing /arranging that the government would send one particular army unit that he had stuffed with his own men to stop him- as opposed to, say, anyone else. John McClane really is the one thing he didn't plan for.
  • Gangsta Style: During the Skywalk shootout, you can see that Mulkey holds his submachine gun sideways in order to gain control and minimize recoil.
  • Genre Savvy: Colonel Stuart who proclaims before his fight on the wing with McClane, "Time for the main event!"
  • Gilligan Cut: Non-cut variant when Holly's plane is approaching Dulles. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with a wine bottle:
    Connie, Flight Attendant #1: Can I get you another [drink]?
    Holly McClane: [looks at Richard Thornburg across the aisle] No thank you. [adjusts her makeup] I only have to look at his face for another fifteen to twenty minutes.
    [the intercom comes on]
    Pilot: Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain speaking. I've just been informed by Dulles Traffic Control that there's a weather front moving in ahead of us. [flips a switch] We may be up here a little while longer.
    Holly McClane: [holds out her glass] On second thought.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Subverted when McClane has a brief fight with Big Bad Colonel Stuart, and gets his ass handed to him.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way:
    • The infamous "Glock 7" description. Supposedly made of porcelain and wouldn't show up on X-Ray machines. Glocks have a polymer frame (not porcelain), but the slide (80% of the gun's mass) is made of steel. Glock pistols still have several metal parts, including the entire slide and barrel. Even if the gun itself was impervious to X-Rays (it's made of Polymer 2, which is radio opaque, meaning it shows up on x-ray), the ammunition and magazine spring wouldn't be. Glock is also based in Austria, not Germany, and does not offer a "Glock 7". The actual gun used in the film was a Glock 17. John's claim that it costs "more then what you make in a month" is also false. Glocks are not particularly expensive compared to other handguns, with the typical market price of 400-600 dollars.
    • When Stuart's men and Grant's platoon fake a firefight by switching to blank rounds, they only change magazines. In reality, automatic weapons need to be fitted with blank adaptors in order to cycle properly. Otherwise, they would function much the same as bolt action rifles.
  • Hello Again, Officer: The Lorenzo brothers at the airport — John just can't get them on his side until the very end.
  • Hollywood Darkness: The runways bask in it.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Lorenzo's SWAT team are ambushed at the Annex Sky-Walk by walking single file on a moving walkway, which is then turned off, by unknown men painting. A real SWAT team would have secured the area by taking multiple positions and ordered the "painters" down from their scaffolding to be checked one by one.
  • It's All My Fault: After John failed to save the innocent passengers of the Windsor flight that Stuart crashed, he was visibly shaken, clearly taking the blame for their deaths to heart. Though the antagonistic airport sherif, moved by his valiant efforts, clearly saw otherwise.
    "There was nothing you could have done."
  • Intrepid Reporter: Samantha Coleman, although she initially annoys McClane with her questions at first, she becomes a refreshing change from Thornberg as she helps John chase the villains in her news helicopter. The fact she is getting a spectacular exclusive of McClane stopping Colonel Stuart doesn't hurt either. She gets the actual footage, while Thornburg just has an audio recording of a message from Barnes.
  • It Has Only Just Begun:
    Trudeau: McClane, is this what you were expecting?
    John McClane: No. This is just the beginning.
  • It's Quiet... Too Quiet: Barnes takes cover during the Skywalk shootout while the SWAT escorts are massacred by Stuart's team of soldiers. After the last one is shot dead by Sheldon, the gunfire ceases and everything goes completely silent. Barnes looks around, and in this complete silence, he fails to notice O'Reilly sneaking up on him.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration:
    • Baker and Thompson pose as airport utility workers so they can get into the church, shoot the custodian, and begin clearing space for the others to set up a mini-ATC center.
    • O'Reilly and Sheldon shoot a pair of painters, then take their uniforms so they can ambush the SWAT team on the Skywalk. For the same shootout, Shockley and Mulkey disguise themselves as repairmen.
  • Jerkass: Lorenzo. Boy howdy.
  • Just Plane Wrong: There are many many plane-related mistakes.
    • Espernzo's flight would not have been scheduled to land at a civilian airfield. Even if it was redirected due to weather, a it would have been redirected to a military airfield, such as Bolling Air Force Base, Andrews Air Force Base, or even Fort Belvoir (US Army).
    • Reagan National is stated to be shut down because of weather, but Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) is never mentioned. Additionally, all planes are required to reroute to the nearest airport if they are unable to land at the original destination (and carry enough fuel to do so), and airfields are required to grant permission to aircraft in distress. Dulles is only two to three hours from a dozen major airports and several military bases, including Andrews AFB, home base for Air Force One. Any of these airports could have also radioed the planes with their functional radios. In short, the entire plot should never have happened.
    • One of the flights delayed is a nonstop Auckland-Washington flight. No commercial airliner in 1990 was capable of this distance (7,476 nautical miles). Planes capable of this flight were introduced in 2002.
    • John prevents Esparenzo's plane from taking off at the end by shoving a coat into the aileron. Esparenzo detects tampering by moving the controls forward and backward, which appear to be stuck. Ailerons are used for turning, not takeoff, so it should be able to takeoff, albeit with difficulty turning. Moving the controls forward and backward operates the elevators and other pitch controls. John also throws Grant into a turbine with no apparent damage. Any foreign object can damage a turbine; a human body would destroy it. John also dumps fuel using a valve on the pylon. Any fuel dump on a 747 is controlled by the cockpit.
    • Windsor 114 is shown exploding along the fuselage. The fuel tanks on passenger jets are in the wings.
    • Holly's plane receives an emergency evacuation, despite not crashing or having any mechanical problem. It should have taxiid to the gate or been towed if completely out of fuel. Holly also stands in the way of an emergency exit
    • A subsonic cargo plane, such as the Fairchild C-123 transporting Esperenzo, does not have an Ejection Seat due to being slow enough for crew to simply bail out.
  • Karmic Death: Stuart crashes a Windsor Airlines flight when the demands aren't met. Anyone knowledgeable in aircraft disasters should know this is a horrendous way to go out. Stuart and his men themselves met a longer, more drawn-out version of this, as their jet takes its sweet time roasting them alive before finally exploding.
  • Kinda Busy Here: When McClane is sneaking up to the church, his pager goes off at a very inconvenient time as Holly sends him a message from her plane. Just as he gets it turned off, he is off guard when Baker suddenly leaps over the pickup truck and attacks him.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Stuart and his group crashed a plane, killing all passengers and crew within. Guess how they die?
  • Manly Tears: McClane bitterly weeping in grief and rage for the 230 passengers and crew whose plane Stuart crashed just to make a point.
  • Media Scrum: McClane and Lorenzo may be at odds throughout the movie, but seem to share the same opinion about the media reporters camped out at the airport awaiting Esperanza's arrival and them crawling all over Cochrane's death after the baggage carousel shootout. This is what Lorenzo says to Trudeau in the tower:
    Carmine Lorenzo: ....the worst part, Mr. Trudeau, is the press. Oh they were here anyways - crawling all over the Esperanza story - so they got it right on the fuckin' news, y'know. Bloodstains and all. Now personally, I'd like to lock every damn reporter out of the airport. But then they'd just pull that "freedom of speech" crap on us and the ACLU would be all over us.
    Trudeau: Murder on television. Hell of a start to Christmas week.
  • Meaningful Name: The jerky reporter is actually named Dick. Holly even points it out.
  • The Mole: A whole platoon of them (save one poor innocent rookie who wasn't in on it).
  • Mugged for Disguise: In the deleted scene, "Down the Rabbit Hole," O'Reilly and Sheldon approach two painters who are unloading equipment from their van in an aircraft hangar. As soon as the first painter takes notice of them, O'Reilly pulls a suppressed pistol and shoots him in the face. The first guy's partner turns his head and is promptly shot dead as well. O'Reilly and Sheldon then shove the bodies into the back of the van, shut the doors, and begin driving. This deleted scene explains how these two soldiers acquired the painters' uniforms that they later wear for the Annex Skywalk shootout.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Averted, as Colonel Stuart specifically betrays the USA because of its policies, or so he says. The fact that he's also getting a lot of money probably contributes, though.
  • Near Villain Victory: Indeed, John manages to beat The Dragon but is too weakened to beat Colonel Stuart himself and is thrown off the plane as they start to make their getaway. It's only due to taking advantage of his precarious position to open the gas tank as he was falling off and his lighter that he managed to pull off a victory.
  • The Neidermeyer: Captain Lorenzo
  • Never Mess with Granny: The little old lady sitting next to Holly on the plane at the beginning of the film. She absolutely revels in the fact that she now has a stun baton to protect herself, and the fact that she tested it on her dog (who she notes limped for a week before recovering) makes her seem just a wee bit Axe-Crazy. Holly later uses it on Richard Thornburg.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Thornburg, while trying to do an expose on the hostage situation, causes chaos at the airport instead, interfering with McClane and the Lorenzo brothers trying to get to Stuart and Grant in the hangar.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: General Esperanza — a Latin American dictator who profited from narcotics smuggling and is transported to the United States to face criminal charges — is Manuel Noriega in all but name.
  • No Indoor Voice: Hot-headed, hot-blooded Carmine Lorenzo blows his top in nearly every scene.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Inverted as John climbs through the air vents to the skywalk, there is lighting in the air vents.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The air traffic controllers. Lorenzo especially. Trudeau is less so since he agrees with McClane upon being told that someone might be preparing to take over the airport.
  • Oh, Crap!: McClane when he realizes Stuart is impersonating a tower controller to crash a plane.
    • Later on when John is trying to lift an industrial steel grid on the Runway to intercept Esperanza, he gets stuck in the gap climbing out; just as Esperanza's plane is coming in to land. The landing gear threatens to crush him unless he climbs out in time. Cue a loud "SHIT!" from John.
    • Again shortly after when Stuart and his men corner him in a cockpit with a dozen grenades.
  • One Riot, One Ranger: The response from Major Grant when McClane complains about only getting one platoon.
  • Only One: The airport police (for most of the movie) and the military troops sent to take out Colonel Stuart.
  • Paparazzi: "Amen-to-that" Dick Thornburg, and he's especially douchetacular this time around. The people in the airport are kept oblivious to Colonel Stuart holding the planes hostage in the sky. Dick happens to be on a plane with Holly, in a holding pattern over the airport. When he figures out what's going on, he immediately calls in the story to his producers, smelling a Pulitzer (and butchering the prize's pronunciation). So the folks in the airport and the planes see the special news bulletin, and McClane ends up having a harder time trying to get to Esperanza's plane in time because of the mass exodus making it hard for him and Lorenzo to navigate their police car, forcing McClane to hitch a ride on Samantha Coleman's news helicopter...
    • Also Samantha Coleman, although she doesn't end up endangering anyone or anything.
  • Plot Hole:
    • The whole plot begins with the US government transporting a high-value prisoner to a civilian airport instead of the nearby military airfield.
    • The terrorists hold the planes hostage in the air by shutting down the lights at Dulles Airport. Given the amount of time and fuel the planes are depicted as having, they could have easily made it to dozens of other civilian or military airports. Any of the three other airports in the DC area could have warned the airborne planes with their own non-crippled radio system and then the terrorist threat evaporates.
    • Colonel Stuart's men also have control over all tower operations and radio communications and some instrument readings in what may be a case of Hollywood Hacking. That's how they pancake the plane as proof of their threat. A piece of fridge logic does set in when the other planes don't land after the first crash. Debris on the field?
    • The snowmobile shootout: the "terrorists" fire on Stuart's men with blanks and switch to live ammo to shoot at McClane. That is impossible, as blank rounds can't generate enough gas pressure to cycle the action of an autoloader (which they were clearly using) without an adapter. Firing live ammo in a blank-adapted gun will destroy it.
  • Police Are Useless: John empties an entire magazine from a submachine gun at Chief Lorenzo inside the airport police station and doesn't get gunned down by the rest of the officers? They were blanks, but still, the cops didn't know that!
    • Played completely straight with most police personnel as it had been in the first film; most obviously exemplified by Lorenzo's own ineptitude and inability to grasp the seriousness of the unfolding situation.
    • After John kills Cochrane and drives away Miller, the cops don't even bother to acknowledge the latter making his getaway, much to John's annoyance.
  • Power Walk: Colonel Stuart and his men are shown doing one as they exit their hotel rooms and march in formation to the elevator.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    • "Yippee-ki-yay, Motherfucker!" (while throwing a lighter at a line of jet fuel).
    • At the church:
    Custodian: Yeah, I kinda feel like a piece of me is dyin' along with this church.
    Baker: Uh, you're right about that. [pulls out a Glock 17 and shoots the custodian dead]
    • When Esperanza kills the pilot:
    Pilot What are you gonna do now? You gonna shoot me?! Then who would fly the plane?!
    Gen. Ramon Esperanza: [smiles] Don't worry about it. It's not your problem. [shoots him]
  • Reality Ensues:
    • In the climax, McClane comes face to face with Col. Stuart, who has been previously shown to be much more skilled in hand-to-hand combat. Additionally, John is worn out and heavily injured from fighting Major Grant mere seconds ago. Sorry folks, but there isn't any Heroic Second Wind here: Stuart utterly hands John his ass with little difficulty, resulting in the villains nearly getting away with their plan.
    • Also from Die Hard 2, the villains holding Dulles International aren't using the threat of a bomb, plague virus or something else horrific yet convoluted to try and extort the government. They simply take control of the airport's ATC. The effectiveness in this is shown to deadly and horrifying effect when they shut down the airport's runway lights and impersonate air traffic control to give false landing information to a passenger jet. The jet crashes, killing all the passengers onboard.
    • McClane tries to accompany Major Grant and his team, only to be stopped because he's a civillian.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Trudeau. When McClane comes into the control tower, he hears him out instead of listening to Carmine and sending him back out.
  • Recycled Premise: Technically but nonetheless is done surprisingly effectively with an entire airport at stake as opposed to a skyscraper; John frequently lampshades just how much he is reliving the events of the first film throughout.
  • Redshirt Army: The SWAT team doesn't stand a chance against Stuart's henchmen.
  • The Remnant: Col. Stuart and his team of mercenaries who think their government backed the wrong side.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: "Yippy-ki-yay, Motherfucker."
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage: The airport clerk who helps John with the airport fax machine early on suggests they could go out later on. John shows off his wedding ring, and says, "Just the fax, ma'am."
  • Shoot Out the Lock: When the access grate to the Dulles Airport runway is blocked by a padlock, McClane shoots it.
  • Short-Lived Aerial Escape: The finale
  • Shout-Out:
  • Skeptic No Longer: Captain Lorenzo only believes John McClane about Colonel Stuart and Major Grant working together only after McClane empties a submachine gun (the same kind used by the soldiers in their attack against the terrorist) full of blanks at him. Lorenzo then calls in the cavalry and soon he, McClane and all the airport security is racing to the plane to stop the villains from escaping.
  • Society Marches On: When Colonel Stuart rudely brushes off Samantha Coleman as he and Garber are making their way through the airport terminal, Stuart gives her two words, "Fuck" and "you," with Garber adding "No pictures, you pinko bitch!" right in front of a news camera. Anyone in authority who did such a thing today would find his profanity plastered all over the internet as a minor scandal, hardly fitting behavior for Stuart or Garber when they're trying to be inconspicuous at the time.
  • Spanner in the Works: Stuart's plan would have not only worked but with all of his guys intact if it hadn't been for that one cop just noticing something off...
  • Staggered Zoom: Used in explosion scenes, like when the antenna array is blown up after the Annex Skywalk shootout.
  • Standard Snippet: "Finlandia" by Jean Sibelius is incorporated into the ending, as an in-joke referring to Renny Harlin's Finnish background.
  • The Stoic: Colonel Stuart.
  • "Stuck at the Airport" Plot: Dulles International due to snow and what amounts to a terrorist plot.
  • Throw-Away Guns: Subverted; McClane tries to convince the airport police chief that there is a serious problem:
    "He pulled a Glock 7 on me. That's a porcelain gun, so it doesn't show up on your x-ray machines, and it costs more than you make in a month."
    "You'd be surprised how much I make in a month."
    "If it's more than $1.98 I'd be really amazed."
  • Tyrannicide: Cronies of deposed dictator General Esperanza take all of Dulles Airport hostage. They demand, and receive, Esperanza; he and his corrupt CIA cohorts are about to depart for a coup of his Banana Republic when John takes them all out.
  • Vapor Trail: In the end, it is what helps the planes to land.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Stuart and his men see themselves as patriots liberating an ally in the war against communism rather than terrorists trying to release a brutal dictator and drug manufacturer.
  • Wham Line: The scene where we are shown that Major Grant is really working with Colonel Stuart:
    Soldier: Hey Telford! What was your chicken-shit outfit doing while we were taking Grenada? [He and his comrades burst out laughing]
    Major Grant: Grenada. Five minutes of firefights, five weeks of surfing!
    Corporal Telford: I wish I was with you guys for that!
    Major Grant: Yeah. Me too, kid.
    Corporal Telford: Really, sir?
    Major Grant: Sure. Then we wouldn't have to do this. [pulls out a Bowie knife and slits Telford's throat. As Telford dies, he grabs a two-way radio and contacts Stuart.]
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The soldier on Grant's team who Telford was called in to replace. Nothing is said of his fate, but odds are he'll have some questions to answer after the deaths of Stuart and Grant.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Colonel Stuart, although not directly. Just before the Windsor Airlines plane crashes in a spectacular fireball, we see at least one child run up the aisle of the plane before being told by a stewardess to take their seats. To drive the point home, McClane picks up the burnt remains of a child's doll after the crash.
  • You Have Failed Me: Subverted when Miller returns to the church after escaping McClane:
    Colonel Stuart: You're late.
    Miller: We ran into trouble, Colonel. Some cop...[sighs] killed Cochrane. I barely got away, sir.
    Colonel Stuart: Did you accomplish your mission? [beat]
    Miller: Yes, sir. But... Cochrane, sir-
    Colonel Stuart: Well then the damage is minimal. [puts a pistol to Miller's head] The penalty could be severe.
    [Miller tenses up as Stuart slowly pulls the trigger and the music swells up, leading us to assume that this will end with Miller getting his face blown off, and then.... the gun clicks on an empty chamber]
    Colonel Stuart: You fail me again, and the chamber won't be empty. Dismissed. [He puts his pistol away and Miller leaves]
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: The reaction of Stuart, Esperanza and Grant when they see McClane on the wing of the airplane. The screenplay actually has the line "They can't fucking believe this."

Why does this keep happening to us?

Alternative Title(s): Die Hard 2 Die Harder