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

Die Hard 2, or Die Hard 2: Die Harder, is the second film in the Die Hard action thriller film franchise, directed by Renny Harlin and released in 1990.

Bruce Willis returns as ex-New York City (now Los Angeles) police officer John McClane, who is at Washington's Dulles International Airport waiting for his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) to arrive for Christmas with her parents. Unknown to McClane, the government has extradited wanted dictator General Ramón 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' 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 and his men before any of the planes — especially Holly's — run out of fuel and crash.

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: McClane uses this technique to create confusion while he illicitly fingerprints a corpse:
    Morgue Worker: Hey! You're supposed to do that at the morgue.
    John McClane: Not anymore. Got a new SOP for DOA's from the FAA.
  • 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.
  • All for Nothing: Barnes attempts to restore power via the annex skywalk. Unfortunately, Col. Stuart planned on this, so he has four men stationed there who kill the SWAT team assigned to protect Barnes and blows up the skywalk. This attempt, plus the deaths of his men, prompt Stuart to crash a plane to show that he's serious.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: The Army unit's radioman, Telford, is the New Meat of the platoon, brought in because the usual guy was ill. He gets roundly mocked and then killed off via a Slashed Throat, simply because he was too new to the unit to be aware of Grant, Stuart and Esperanza's plan like the rest of the in-crowd.
  • All There in the Script: The names of Stuart's soldiers only appear in the script, and only two, Cochrane (the one McClane defeats in the baggage conveyer belt scene) and Garber (Stuart's Number Two) are mentioned by name. According to the script, their names (by order of appearance) are: Baker, Thompson (the fake airport electricians who kill the church custodian); Cochrane, Garber, and Miller (the three soldiers in the airport bar): Burke (the techie with the face shield who is seen using a torch to open a control box); Kahn (listening in on tower communications). The four shooters in the Annex Skywalk shootout are O'Reilly (the first to fire any shots, and also the first to be killed by McClane), Sheldon (the soldier with a perch on the scaffolding), Shockley (the one soldier taken out by the SWAT team), and Mulkey (the last one taken out by McClane). Furthermore, Stuart's first name is William.
  • Almighty Janitor:
    • John befriends a janitor who gets him all over the airport without anyone being able to see him. He also picks up one of the bad guy's radios that already had the password punched in. He asks for twenty bucks. John lets offers to let him live.
    Marv: [Earn Your Happy Ending] Hey, officer, get in!
    John: Whaddaya say, Marv?
    Marv: I'll be damned if I'm cleaning up this mess!
    • In a similar vein, John allies with Barnes, the tech guy at air traffic control. Barnes isn't a controller, he's not a higher-up, he's a behind the scenes tech nerd who comes up with a bunch of insane solutions to the problem of Stuart taking over ATC.
  • And This Is for...: During his fight with Col. Stuart, McClane lands some kidney-punches while yelling "This is for Flight 114, motherfucker".
  • Are We Getting This?: Inverted when the cameraman, seeing Holly and John finally getting together and starting to kiss, remarks that he is getting it to Coleman. She then covers the camera, deliberately ruining the shot.
  • Artistic License – Economics: John claims that the gun cost more than one makes in a month (or year?); the guns are relatively inexpensive. More than $1.98 though. Glocks cost around $400-$500, making them midrange and quite affordable, especially on a policeman's salary.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The plot of the film only works if you imagine Washington DC is a remote outpost far from civilization instead of being smack in the middle of the eastern seaboard. The planes are able to circle Dulles for a few hours, which means they have the fuel to reach any one of the many, many, many airports (all of whom are required to accept planes in distress, even the military airfields) in the area.
    • The film does attempt to handwave this by explaining that planes at a certain distance were diverted to other airports, however those already near Dulles were going to struggle with travel due to the increasing severity of the blizzard.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety:
    • When the terrorists swap out their red cartridges to blue (switiching from lethal rounds to blanks), none of them even try to deal with the live, lethal round already pre-loaded into the barrel.
    • McClane empties an entire magazine from Garber's machine gun to demonstrate it's loaded with blanks, and does so when it's pointed at Lorenzo. 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. McClane 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 – Military: Stuart (and possibly others) talking about/to flight 'Foxtrot Michael One'. The NATO phonetic for the letter M is 'Mike'. Why Stuart decided to expand it to Michael, who knows.
  • 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.
    • McClane would not be able to blow up the plane by throwing his lighter into the trail of jet fuel leaking from it. For one thing, jet fuel only ignites at very high temperatures, but also, as the plane left the ground, the trail of fuel leaking from it would become so dispersed that the flame couldn't climb up it. Basically, "Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker" would have been followed by nothing but the sound of the plane getting further and further away. They would have crashed anyway without fuel after a while, but that would have been a tad less cinematic, and wouldn't have helped the other planes land following the fire trail.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The fact that this has now happened twice is referred to a number of times by McClane, often for comic relief...
    "Just once, I'd like a regular, normal Christmas. Eggnog, a fuckin' Christmas tree, a little turkey... But no, I gotta crawl around in this motherfuckin' tin can."
    "Oh man, I can't fuckin' believe this. Another basement, another elevator. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?"
  • A-Team Firing: Justified as the commando team is again firing blanks.
  • 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 (and many others) makes a crash landing. Unfortunately, an innocent custodian was killed at the church when Stuart's gang took it over and 230 other 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 and Nerdy: Barnes is the tech guy in charge at the control tower. Everyone listens to him when it comes to Techno Babble.
  • 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.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Cochrane shoots an aerosol can out of McClane's hand.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The violence is generally bloodier and far more explicit than the first film'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!"
  • Bookends: 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.
    • Inverted with the Colt M1911 taken by Esperanza from his guard; the gun fires five bullets instead of seven before running dry (one blows out the plane window, one on each pilot, two on the cockpit door after John flees there in his failed attempt to take Esperanza hostage).
  • 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 expletives" 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.
    • The Latin American Spanish dub is even worse, as all the profanity was removed and changed with less offensive words, as well as dubbing Esperanza, since all his Spanish he uses in the film is quite profane.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: When crashing Windsor Flight 114, Colonel Stuart takes on a Southern twang to impersonate the airport 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.
  • Busman's Holiday: McClane was only at Dulles to greet his wife.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: The Special Forces unit called in to deal with the hostage situation turns out to be working with the terrorists.
  • Chance Meeting Between Antagonists: 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.
    • John's lighter.
  • 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. Ramón 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.
  • Code Name: Colonel Stuart's henchmen feature interesting code names.
    • In the beginning, when Baker and Thompson kill the church custodian, a memorable line is what Thompson says into his radio right afterwards: "This is Buckwheat. The clubhouse is open."
    • There's a deleted scene where O'Reilly (Robert Patrick) says, "This is Alice. We're down the rabbit hole."
    • The three army leaders all have bird-themed codenames: Major Grant is "Hatchling", Colonel Stuart is "Eagle Nest," and General Esperanza is "Falcon".
  • Colonel Badass: Stuart leads his troops with military precision. Much like a typical villain in the franchise, he embodies Evil is Cool.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Stuart's men (and Grant's) denote their magazines with differently colored tape: red for live rounds, blue for blanks.
  • Combat Pragmatist: McClane beats the villains with a cigarette lighter, setting a destructive Vapor Trail with it.
  • Comic-Book Time: Implied. The events of the first movie were stated to take place in 1988, yet the second film, despite only taking place one year later in-universe, explicitly takes place in 1990, with characters saying it's the 90's now.
  • Commander Contrarian: Captain Lorenzo, who spends his time being an asshole and inhibiting McClane every step of the way. At least until McClane identifies the soldiers are Dragon Their Feet, at which point Captain Lorenzo realizes McClane knows what he's doing.
  • 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.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: Hans Gruber was a Gentleman Thief from Germany, with him and his crew robbing Nakatomi Plaza while posing as far-left Western Terrorists in order to deflect police attention from what they're actually up to. While he once was a leftist terrorist himself, he has long since abandoned any political ideals; his motive here is purely about getting rich. Col. Stuart is an American ex-Special Forces colonel who launches a genuine terrorist attack at Dulles International Airport, seeking to rescue Ramón Esperanza, the drug lord dictator of a Latin American Banana Republic. His motive is expressly political and anti-communist, seeing Esperanza as a key ally in the Cold War who the US recklessly removed from power (though Stuart's people are also getting paid a lot of money, according to one of Esperanza's lines).
  • Contrasting Sequel Setting: Whereas the first film was set at Christmas Eve in sunny Los Angeles, the sequel takes place on Christmas Eve in Dulles International Airport during a blizzard.
  • Convenient Eclipse: Colonel Stuart and his team heavily relying on a bad storm on the exact day they need to hold the airport to ransom. On a day with good visibility, it would have been nearly impossible to trick pilots into crashing by messing with the landing systems.
    • It's sort of implied that they may have had some other plans if the weather had been clear. Note that Garber says "God loves the Infantry" when Cochrane gives him a weather update at the bar. The weather nicely played in their favor.
  • Cool Guns: McClane talks about a non-existent "Glock 7" model, supposedly made of porcelain and designed to get through airport scanners. This may not be the origin of the myth about "plastic handguns," but it certainly helped propagate it. To the point that the US Congress actually passed a law banning such guns. Yes, they banned something that didn't exist at the time (A functional 3D printed gun that was 99% plastic was developed in the 2010s, causing Congress to revise the law to say that all commercially available guns must have a certain weight of metal in them, that is distributed across the frame so that the buyer can't just remove it after purchasing the weapon), no word on whether they plan to ban the Killing Curse next.
    • In fact, John's quote in the film is as follows:
      John: "That punk pulled a Glock 7 on me, you know what that is? It's a porcelain gun, made in Germany. It doesn't show up on your airport X-ray machines, and it costs more than what you make in a month!" note 
    • Colonel Stuart's men make use of Heckler & Koch MP5s , even loading them with blanks for the faked shootout with the army special forces team. John grabs one, not realising what's happened and wonders why his aim is off. When he checks his magazine afterwards, he figures out that the army team was actually working for Stuart. Stuart uses a MP5A5 as his main weapon (denoted from the MP5A3 by its four-position trigger group), while his right-hand man Garber wields a MP5A3 fitted with a scope, and the Mooks use MP5Ks.
  • Cop Killer: Stuart baits Lorenzo into sending his entire SWAT team out into the open, where they are promptly massacred before McClane can stop them.
  • Cowboy Cop: Chief Carmine Lorenzo distrusts McClane, due to this. Ironically they initially clash over Chief Lorenzo disregarding police procedure.
  • Crowd Panic: When Thornberg manages to get the fact that terrorists have seized control of the air traffic control systems of the airport on the evening news, everyone in the airport panics. This mainly serves to ensure that the cops can't get through the crowds to attempt to do anything about it.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
  • 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.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion:
    • The SWAT team did manage to kill one of the bad guys at the annex.
    • McClane manged to land a few kidney punches and bit off a chunk of Stuart's hand. Then he blew up Stuart's plane, killing all the remaining bad guys.
    John: Holly! I got your fucking landing light!
  • Da Chief: Airport Police Captain Carmine Lorenzo.
  • 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, 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. Exemplified in a short exchange late in the third act:
    Helicopter Pilot: What's the matter, cowboy? Ride too rough?
    McClane: I don't like to fly!
    Samantha: Then what are you doing here [in this helicopter]?
    McClane: I don't like to lose, either!
    • Also, Richard Thornburg is really determined to get the story, although for selfish reasons.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: The film is kind of more blatant about using this trope than the first. That it's the Christmas travel week is almost like an afterthought while McClane is taking down Colonel Stuart.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Thornburg and his colleagues leaking the word of the terrorist takeover of the airport out to the public. Although more justifiable with Thornburg seeing how he cares nothing for the lives he endangers in airing his discovery to the thousands of holiday travelers who were until then unaware of the siege, his colleagues are much too eager to indulge his demands to put this out onto the air and thus a mass panic breaks out just as the police are assembling to pursue the terrorists.
    • The decision for General Esperanza's plane to land at Dulles in the first place proves to be this; Instead of an American airforce base where security would've made escape nearly impossible, they have his transport land at a civilian airport where Colonel Stuart had many more avenues to exploit the demonstrably inadequate measures taken.
  • Disappointed by the Motive: In a whole series full of reveals that induce this from either McClane or whoever is helping him in that particular movie, this is the odd one out: while all of General Stuart's men are mercenaries and will be paid a lot (as implied in one of Esperanza's last lines) Stuart himself has a political motive (he and Esperanza are former Cold War allies and he didn't liked how The Generalissimo was tossed under the bus for the sake of politics).
  • 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.
  • Dual Wielding: During the Annex Skywalk shoot-out, O'Reilly wields a Glock 17 pistol and a Heckler & Koch MP5K submachine gun.
  • '80s Hair: Holly, once again.
  • Ejection Seat: McClane is cornered in the cockpit of a cargo plane by terrorists who start tossing in grenades (with absurdly long fuses). Acting quickly, he straps himself into the pilot's seat and activates the ejector seat. It should be noted cargo planes generally don't have ejector seats.
  • 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.
  • Emergency Refuelling: The bad guys have taken over an airport and make the planes circle instead of letting them land. One plane runs very low on fuel; the bad guys pretend to let them land, but actually the landing lights are set in such a way as to make it crash.
  • 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.
  • Endangering News Broadcast: Thornberg manages to broadcast the fact that there is a terrorist threat (which the Dulles authorities have managed to keep quiet about so far) on national television, leading to a massive riot at the airport which gridlocks the police's mobilization and forces John to face the escaping terrorists on his own.
  • "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 .
    • Even with this fact, if the explosion of the plane itself was due to the fuel vapors in the wings, such explosion would have happened almost instantly, not a couple of seconds after the wings blew.
    • In addition, considering the explosive behavior of fuel vapors, this would make the other exploding plane (a cargo plane fully loaded with fuel and thus fewer vapors) all the more implausible.
  • Evil All Along: Major Grant and his platoon are working with Colonel Stuart the whole time.
  • 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: Like the previous film, it takes place over a few hours in one night.
  • 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.
    • Colonel Stuart fails to notice that McClane has opened the fuel valve on the engine. This allows enough fuel to escape while McClane uses the fuel to blow up the cargo 747.
  • Fanservice: Colonel Stuart likes to do his karate shirtless and pantless!
  • Film the Hand: Occurs when Coleman tries to question Colonel Stuart, his crony covers the camera and says "No pictures, you pinko bitch."
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: During one shootout and another one later, the camera pans to golf clubs, a bicycle, and an icicle right before John utilizing them against the mooks in self-defense.
  • Foil: This film gives us Samantha Coleman, a contrast to Dick Thornburg. Dick is a very competent journalist who can uncover a really important story while stuck on a plane, but who doesn't give a damn who gets hurt so long as he gets his story, maybe his Pulitzer. Coleman is willing to ride a helicopter into a firefight and see the entire damn theing through, but though she takes a moment to appreciate the beauty of John's and Holly's reunion, she covers up the camera and gives them their privacy. She's not just a good journalist, she's a good journalist.
  • 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.
    • After John adds another Mook to his Kill Tally, Lorenzo comments that it is hard to tell how meaningful that kill was when they don't how many men Stuart has. Stuart does indeed have more accomplices than he seems to at first glance, namely Major Grant and his team.
  • From Bad to Worse: After learning that the men in the luggage conveyor were ex-military who had faked death, John immediately points out that they wouldn't just resort to stealing luggage. He couldn't be anymore correct.
  • 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.
    • Actually, we never knew how exactly Stuart and Esperanza were planning to get away. 747 is not a stealth aircraft, they had no hostages or valuables on board so nothing will stop USAF interceptors from scramble and shoot 747 out of the sky.
  • 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.
  • Going for the Big Scoop:
    • Samantha Coleman helps John chase the villains making their getaway in her news helicopter. Yes, she is revealed as a genuinely nice lady who genuinely wants to help, but the fact she is getting a spectacular exclusive of McClane stopping the villains at some personal risk is some incentive too.
    • As in the previous movie, Dick Thornburg decides to broadcast information about a terrorist situation that may (and does) endanger lives without any other concern other than personal glory (when Holly knocks him out, he's halfway into a speech that if his call to his station is his final broadcast he hopes he'll be seen as a hero or something).
  • Golf Clubbing: John McClane uses a golf club against the first terrorist in the baggage area of the airport early in this installment.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Subverted when McClane has a brief fight with Big Bad Colonel Stuart, and gets his ass handed to him.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Colonel Stuart is trying to release Ramón Esperanza, a deposed Generalissimo who is being extradited
  • Grenade Spam: Col. Stuart and his men have John trapped in the plane that was used to transport the general they were to rescue. They toss about twenty grenades into the cockpit to blow it up, forcing McClane to scramble for the ejector seat.
    Where's the fucking door?
  • Guns Akimbo: O'Reilly, one of Stuart's Mooks, wields a Glock 17 in one hand and a H&K MP5K submachine gun in the other during the skywalk shootout.
  • 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 actually some of the more affordable handguns on the market, with the typical market price of $400-600, barring extensive modification (which a "porcelain frame" would probably fall under, of course, John's explanation makes it sound like that is factory-standard).
    • 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.
  • Here We Go Again!: Once the action gets going, this is lampshaded repeatedly. All the way to the end, when Holly asks John why this happened to them again.
  • Heroic BSoD: McClane suffers a major one after he fails to stop the plane from crashing, openly crying. Trudeau later finds him sitting on his own, utterly despondent.
  • Holiday Pardon: Used as a Brick Joke. The movie begins with John McClane's car being towed by airport police because he accidentally parked it in the wrong place while arriving at the airport to fetch his wife, and all of his pleading (including that, yeah, he be let off the hook because it's Christmas) fall on the deaf ears of the Jerkass airport cop that is ordering the towing. At the end of the film, after all kinds of action-hero shenanigans (and discovering that the jerk cop is the brother of the equally jerkish chief of airport police), the traffic ticket is torn by the chief because "What the hell? It's Christmas! (And you saved several hundred people!)"
  • Hollywood Blanks: The infamous firefight mentioned above, where the SWAT team not only fires blanks at each other without injury, but does so from unmodified weapons designed for live ammunition.
  • Hollywood Darkness: The runways bask in it.
  • Hollywood Law:
    • There is no airport police force at Washington Dulles International Airport. Policing at Dulles is actually the responsibility of the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority and (since 2001) the TSA.
    • In Lorenzo's first scene, he tells John McClane, "You're the asshole that's just broke seven FAA and five District of Columbia regulations, running around my airport with a gun, shooting at people. What do you call that shit?" Washington, D.C. law would not apply to Washington Dulles International Airport, as the airport is located in Loudon County, Virginia, a full 25 miles west of Washington D.C. So the laws actually broken would be based on local ordinances, Virginia state law, or whatever is stipulated by the MWAA.
    • Not to mention that the entire plot only becomes possible because of everyone in the airport and the planes forgetting some FAA regulations which would have made averting the crisis a trivial effort. First, all aircraft in the air must be listening to a specific frequency dedicated for use to alert pilots to emergency situations (which any airfield in the area could broadcast to on Dulles' behalf), and second, any airfield capable of accepting an aircraft declaring a need for an emergency landing must do so. Since there are at least three other major airfields within 15 minutes flight time of Dulles, and two hours (the length of the siege in-film) flight time makes half the airports on the Eastern Seaboard reachable in a stretch, there are plenty of other airports in range that could use their transmitters to tell the circling aircraft "Dulles is compromised, land here instead". Military airports are included, since they allow civilian planes to land in an emergency there.
    • Lorenzo is stated to be a Captain and wears Captain's bars on his uniform, but when he orders a mobilization after McClane reveals the plot, he addresses himself as Chief, a distinct rank. However, that may be just a case of cop parlance, as it is common for the boss in a workplace to be informally referred to as "chief" by themselves or their subordinates.
  • Hollywood Restraining Order: Thornberg has a restraining order against Holly: she's not allowed to be within 50 yards of him. Too bad they're on a plane together.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Lorenzo's SWAT team are ambushed at the Annex Skywalk 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. Given the crisis, they also should have been wearing the body armor that a later scene revealed that the airport police did have in the armory. There are various bits of dialogue commenting on the lack of professionalism and effectiveness of the police at the airport, so this isn't completely out of nowhere.
  • Hope Spot:
    • A villainous version. Stuart, Esperanza and their crew of mercenaries are kicking back, high-fiving, celebrating and smoking cigars in their plane, as they think the jet's steering gear is now free of interference and they can cruise off to be Karma Houdinis in Latin America as they perpetrate a coup and rule a Banana Republic at their leisure — and then McClane's lit trail of jet fuel catches up to their plane to Kill It with Fire (and everyone inside).
    • When Stuart prepares to crash a plane by giving it fake landing coordinates, John races to stop him by using flares to alert the plane. The pilots miss his warning, causing the deaths of everyone onboard the airliner.
  • Hostile Weather: The film depends on this trope for its plot to function.
  • I Have Your Wife: When Esperanza lands his plane, John attempts to take him hostage to force Stuart to allow the planes to land, but is interrupted by Stuart arriving to pick Esperanza up.
    "You see, you're one of the bad guys, and now that I got your sorry ass, I'm gonna trade it for my wife."
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Parodied nicely. There's a massive fire fight outside a church between Colonel Stuart's men and Major Grant's soldiers where nobody gets hurt despite the enormous amount of gunpowder being discharged, and the only casualties are two of Stuart's men who are taken out by McClane. The fact is they were all shooting with blanks, since they were all bad guys.
    • McClane getting hit with this himself after he picks up one of the soldier's weapons instead of his handgun is what tips him off that something is suspicious, since he seemingly fails to hit a single target and knows his aim couldn't possibly be that bad and is positive he got what should have been a clean hit on Stuart that somehow didn't connect. Knowing something has to be wrong with the gun he checks it and notices the blanks.
  • Implausible Synchrony: Justified. Garber, Miller and Cochrane are shown synchronizing watches before splitting up at the bar.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: John shoots Thompson in the throat when he comes to pick up Esperanza with Stuart, Garber, and Kahn. Compared to other versions of this trope, it's Bloodless Carnage.
  • Improvised Weapon: McClane kills Baker with a handy 'eye'cicle. But he gets his big finale with nothing more than a cigarette lighter.
  • 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 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 sheriff, moved by his valiant efforts, clearly saw otherwise.
    "There was nothing you could have done."
  • It's All About Me: Stuart seems to have this attitude. As he sees it, General Esperanza doesn't deserve to be thrown under the bus, so this gives him the right to kill countless innocents and betray his own country because of his political opinion and his desire for the cash Esperanza will reward him. He even lets his old friend Major Grant be brutally killed for no real reason than saving him would pose no immediate benefit to him.
  • 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.
    • Esperanza'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 Esperanza's plane from taking off at the end by shoving a coat into the aileron. Esperanza 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, and while the wings do explode from the fuel vapors, it wouldn't have been with such force to make the entire fuselage explode in the same manner. The Cargo 747 also explodes along the fuselage even though the destroyed engine and port wing would have been enough to bring down the plane, an explosion of the port side wing tanks wouldn't have breached the center wing box with enough force to blow up the jet from the inside.
    • Holly's plane receives an emergency evacuation, despite not crashing or having any mechanical problem. It should have taxied 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 Esperanza, does not have an Ejection Seat due to being slow enough for crew to simply bail out.
    • Regarding Esperanza plane, it's a mongrel of C-123 airframe and four oversized jet engines in place of two piston radials.
    • When the villains pick up the Windsor flight as the one to crash, it is marked as a 747 on a flight progress strip. The aircraft emerging from the clouds clearly lacks the upper deck and the cabin shot shows a single-aisle narrowbody airliner. Judging by the appearance, it's likely a re-engined Douglas DC-8 - capable of a London to Washington flight, but older and nowhere near as glamorous as the 747. (And if Windsor is meant to be a stand-in for British Airways, they never operated a DC-8. They had several 707 - inherited from its pre-merger members - but all were retired by 1984.)
    • The Windsor airliner has a cockpit instrumentation of a 707 (notice the four red squares atop the central console, with numbers 1 to 4 on them - the engine warning lights, used on a 707 and later in three-square version on a 727), but the external view lacks 707's distinctive HF antenna and the compressors on the pylons connecting the engines to the wings - it's likely a Douglas DC-8 Super 60, judging by the engines. (And it's saying to be carrying 230 souls. The largest 707 variants had a capacity of 194 paxes - adding a crew of four, pilots, engineer and navigator needed on overwater flight and cabin crew - per regulations, 1 per 50 passengers - 200 persons tops. The DC-8 were configured for up to 259 passenger seats.)
    • When Major Grant falls into a running 747 engine, it should destroy it. Esperanza still manages to get the 747 airborne - which is correct, considering the rather light load and that a 747 can climb safely on three engines. However, he pushes all four throttles up to max power - something a real pilot would never do: when an engine is damaged on takeoff, it is instantly idled (and the fuel supply is shut off) - pushing a damaged engine to max power is asking for an uncontained failure and a fire.
  • 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.
  • Knight of Cerebus: While this is a serious movie to begin with, Col. Stuart causes a planeful of people and children to crash and burn and he even manages to deliver a brutal No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to McClane in the climax.
  • Lampshade Hanging: McClane: "Oh man I can't fucking believe this. Another basement, another elevator. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?"
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Stuart and his group crashed a plane, killing all passengers and crew within. Guess how they die?
    • Thornberg acts like a smarmy ass on the plane, and later causes a panic at the airport by revealing and embellishing the terrorist plot impeding John from taking down the terrorists, and possibly injuring hundreds. Holly tases him.
  • Man Bites Man: John McClane bites Col. Stuart's hand... and spits out a bloody piece.
  • 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: Again. The jerky reporter is actually named Dick. Holly even points it out.
  • Military Alphabet: The plane that is bringing General Esperanza to the United States is designated FM (Foreign Military) 1, though later in the film, both Colonel Stuart and Esperanza refer to it as "Foxtrot Michael 1", despite the military alphabet using the shortened name Mike for the letter M.
  • Moe Greene Special: McClane fights with Baker and ends up having to kill him by stabbing him in the eye with an icicle. McClane is sickened by the sight.
  • The Mole: A whole platoon of them (save one poor innocent rookie who wasn't in on it).
  • Moral Myopia: Colonel Stuart is perfectly fine with murdering countless innocents, but god help you if you killed one of his men.
  • 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.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The main trailer plays around with this. Early on it shows a group of soldiers loading their weapons and donning face masks while sinister music plays, implying they're the terrorists trying to take over the airport. They're actually a platoon called in to take the terrorists down and the sequence is when they're preparing to go into combat with them. However, it turns out that they're in league with the terrorists and the "combat" they launch into is completely staged, which means this is actually a case of stealth foreshadowing.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: Set in December 1990 and released in July 1990.
  • 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.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: At one point one of the terrorists sets a moving walkway in reverse so that he can get to McClane more quickly at the other end of it, but this allows McClane to retrieve his previously-dropped gun and shoot his enemy before the other man can reach him.
  • 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.
  • Noodle Incident: According to Col. Stuart, McClane appeared on Nightline following the events of the first film and appeared to be out of his league.
  • 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.
  • Officer O'Hara: John dials it back a bit in this one (no more Irish curses), instead Holly dials it up, crossing herself and praying, thinking her plane is going to crash. They might have moved to LA, but they're a couple of New York Micks.
  • 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.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: "How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?"
  • One Riot, One Ranger: The response from Major Grant when McClane complains about only getting one platoon.
  • The 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 Grant'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: A baffling example occurs as 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.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    • "Yippee-ki-yay, Motherfucker/Mr. Falcon!" (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. Ramón Esperanza: [smiles] Don't worry about it. It's not your problem. [shoots him]
  • Prove I Am Not Bluffing: After the attempt to take the satellite array fails, Col. Stuart proves that he's not messing around by crashing a plane full of civilians.
  • Punctuated Pounding: As John rains fist after furious fist into Colonel Stuart's gut for murdering a plane of innocent British passengers.
  • 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: An entire five man SWAT team escorting Barnes to a satellite array is ambushed and killed by a team of Colonel Stuart's men who are disguised as painters. They only manage to kill one of the henchmen (Shockley) before all five are offed (one by O'Reilly, two each by Sheldon and Mulkey). That a SWAT team can't take out four men armed with automatics, but McClane can with little more than a pistol is a perfect example of this trope.
  • The Remnant: Col. Stuart and his team of mercenaries who think their government backed the wrong side.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: As the jet carrying the treacherous soldiers and General Esperanza takes off, John McClane gets onto the wing and opens a gas tank valve so the plane leaves a trail of aviation fuel. After he returns to the ground, he pulls out a lighter, ignites it and drops it on the gas trail. The flame runs up the trail to the gas tank and causes the gas to explode, destroying the jet.
  • Rewatch Bonus: After you realize Stuart and Grant are in league with each other, a careful eye can now see that both sides had been using color-coded ammunition to distinguish between the live rounds and blanks used throughout the siege.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Esperanzo isn't just a right wing puppet dictator used by the US to fight communism. He's also a trained pilot who lands his prison plane when it's damaged, and he's the one piloting the escape plane in the third act.
    Esperanzo: Don't shoot! That wing is fully fueled!
  • Same Language Dub: John Leguizamo has one line and it's dubbed.
  • Same Plot Sequel: The film is a re-hash of the first, just with an airport instead of a skyscraper. It's even lampshaded in the dialogue.
  • 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: McClane lights a Vapor Trail of the villain's jet just as it is leaving the ground. Yippee-ki-yay indeed.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The above line "Just the facts, ma'am" is popularly mis-attributed to Dragnet.
    • A subtle one, but Holly's seatmate is reading a magazine with an advertisement for Lethal Weapon 2 pointed directly at the camera. During the Skywalk shootout, John even does Martin Riggs' signature ground-roll while firing the same gun, a 9mm Beretta.
    • The Colonel's nude martial arts routine at the beginning is identical to a routine Captain Willard does in Apocalypse Now.
    • On Holly's flight, an in-flight show is shown to be an episode of The Simpsons.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When John rushes to Lorenzo to inform him of Grant's treachery, the police chief again refuses to believe his warnings and attempts to cuff McClane, who then fires an entire magazine on him with his machine gun. However, everyone quickly sees that the gun was loaded with blanks, meaning that the whole firefight between Stuart and Grant had been a ruse. Lorenzo quickly orders a full assault on the terrorists.
  • Silence, You Fool!: When Lorenzo threatens to put McClane in a cell, Major Grant responds with this well-deserved line:
    Major Grant: Lorenzo, shut the fuck up and do something useful!
  • Sinister Nudity: Col. Stuart is introduced to the audience doing naked Tai Chi in his hotel room, looking as lean and mean as the T-1000 (whose actor, incidentally, had a bit part in the film). The only thing Stuart is wearing is a gold watch, which at one point just happens to block the dictator's face on the TV screen in front of him, foreshadowing the financial connection between them.
  • 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.
  • Slashed Throat: Major Grant slices Telford's throat, as he wasn't in on the plan.
  • Snowed-In: The Storm of the Century shuts down Washington Dulles airport as the enabling premise for the strangely implausible terrorist hi-jinks.
  • So Much for Stealth: McClane attempts to sneak into the terrorist's hideout, only for his pager to go off, prompting Baker to attack him.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: While John's sneaking around under the terminal, the Source Music from the janitor's record player is Patti Page's "Old Cape Cod".
  • 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...
    Stuart: [after blowing John up during the snowmobile chase] So much for the element of chance.
  • 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. Not one time does he emote to anything. He always acts and speaks with a very stoic presence. And it makes him more terrifying.
  • "Stuck at the Airport" Plot: Dulles International due to snow and what amounts to a terrorist plot.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • 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.
    • 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 civilian.
    • Following the ending of the first film, Thornburg filed a restraining order against Holly. Regardless of how much of an asshole he is, assaulting someone on national television is going to result in legal repurcussions. Holly doesn't seem to care though.
      • One must ponder however why Thornburg wasn't effected by the trope himself as he committed a handful of unethical reporter practices in the previous movie that sure would've gotten him discharged. Holly punching him was a mere slap on the wrist compared to losing his job.
  • Team Power Walk: Colonel Stuart and his men are shown doing one as they exit their hotel rooms and march in formation to the elevator.
  • Television Geography: The action is set at Dulles Airport, near Washington DC, but the pay phones bear Pacific Bell logos. And the police are consistently identified as DC police even though Dulles is in Virginia. And the bad guys plan and execute an escape by snowmobile, and a long icicle is used effectively as a weapon. Washington area winter weather almost never supports snowmobile use in the suburbs, and is almost always mild until after the Christmas season.
    • Additionally, the airport used in the movie looks nothing like the real Dulles Airport which has a very unusual architecture. That's because many of the exterior airport scenes were shot at Alpena Regional Airport, in Alpena, Michigan, on Lake Huron. Alpena was chosen in part because the producers needed a location with consistent, heavy snow, winter weather cold enough to use snow makers if necessary, and it's small enough that they could close several runways for shooting. The scenes in the baggage-claim drive-through were shot at Denver-Stapleton.
  • Tempting Fate: The first person to be killed is the church custodian. Baker and Thompson (disguised as airport maintenance workers) trick him into letting them into the church, and he starts musing about the current proposals to shutter the church. He says, "Yeah, I kinda feel like a piece of me is dying along with this church." Baker immediately says, "Well, you're right about that," then pulls out a pistol and shoots the custodian.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The bad guys shoot at an airplane cockpit with machine guns, filling it with bullet holes, and then throw all their grenades just for good measure. When they see him parachuting out of the explosion, they just say (again pragmatically) "You Lucky Fuck".
  • This Is Gonna Suck: "Ah John, what the fuck are you doing out on the wing of this plane?"
  • 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."
  • Token Minority: Miller and Burke are the only non-white soldiers within Stuart's team. Major Grant is also a participant. On the side of the good guys, we have Black and Nerdy Barnes, the tech guy who solves the problem of communicating with the planes without Stuart shutting them down.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer showed McClane fighting Major Grant at the end revealing his Face–Heel Turn as The Mole near the end of the film.
  • Traintop Battle: Planetop battle. John McClane and Major Grant grapple atop the aircraft's left wing. Grant gets toppled into one jet engine's intake, killing him. The fight also let McClane catch sight of the fuel dump valve on the wing's leading edge.
  • Turbine Blender: Happens to Major Grant. He gets plenty of time to slowly lose his grip, too.
  • Turn Off the Camera: Coleman pushes the camera down when the McClanes reunite, partly to highlight that she is better than Thornberg.
  • 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: McClane uses this to blow up the villain's plane. In the end, it is what helps the planes to land.
  • Villain Respect: Major Grant goes from antagonist to as he realizes John's a working joe badass. Grant isn't on the side of the angels, but he thinks he is and knows John is.
  • Vulnerable Convoy: Terrorists take over an airport to free a drug lord being flown into the U.S. on a jet.
  • 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.
  • The Worf Effect: Colonel Stewart's men kill the SWAT team sent to protect Barnes when he goes to activate the antenna array in the Terminal Annex. Only McClane is able to kill all of them to prevent them from killing Barnes, too.
  • Workout Fanservice: Colonel Stuart is introduced doing some martial arts, which he later uses to fight McClane. What makes it this trope is that he's completely naked for no reason, though the audience only sees him from the back.
  • 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."
  • You Need a Breath Mint: Holly from advises Dick Thornburg to use stronger mouthwash after he gets too close to her a few times.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The terrorists are ex-army officers trying to free a Banana Republic dictator whom they see as an anti-communist stalwart. Probably this was a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Ollie North and Noriega. This aversion is all the more notable because it's the only film in the series in which the terrorists (or at least their leader) are sincere about their cause.

Why does this keep happening to us?


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Die Hard 2 Die Harder


Die Hard 2 Plane Explosion

Just when it looks the like bad guys are about to get away, Joh McClane sets their escape ablaze. (And drops his famous one-liner.)

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / ShortLivedAerialEscape

Media sources: