When John McClane, probably the worlds unluckiest cop, goes to pick up his estranged wife Holly from Dulles Airport who is flying in from L.A., he gets more than he bargained for. Terrorists seize control of the airport landing systems stranding inbound flights in Dulles airspace...All low on fuel and all unaware of the problem. So it falls to John McClane to defeat the terrorists and get the planes landed safely before they run out of fuel.
Sound familiar? Yup, its the first film rehashed in an airport. It has to be said that this is the weakest of the trilogy and is not a patch on the far superior original. Its significantly more predictable script is its main weak point, and the villain is no where near as menacing as Hans Gruber. First up....One of the most annoying things about this film is the studio's insistence of using American actors who attempt (badly) to reproduce a British accent...It doesn't sound good...Stop doing it film studios!
Al Powell (the fat cop from the first film) makes a short appearance but it gives the impression of being thrown in just to give him a part...Why? Is he a friend of the director? Thornberg however plays a much larger part, he's the ambitious reporter that Holly McClane clobbered at the end of the first film. Oddly though he plays a coward one minute and is courageous the next....hmmm...But how did he manage to end up on the same flight as McClane's estranged wife, especially considering there he has a restraining order against her? This film just doesn't fit together properly and its this hotchpotch of ideas thrown together that is its downfall as a credible movie.
The picture is similar in quality to the R2 Die Hard with the same slightly washed out look, and although its perfectly acceptable it does leave you wanting better, especially when you consider that the film stock is only 10 years old. The problem with the picture appears to be in dark areas, a good case in point is when Thornberg approaches Holly McClane. However, again, the film scores over the R1 equivalent as it is anamorphic. The R1 picture is sharp, but can be surprisingly poor in places for a THX certified disc.
However the sound is rather poor, with muffled explosion effects, the only redeeming point being the effective echo in the control tower. Hardly any use is made of the surround channels which, for my money, is unforgivable in an action film of this ilk. The R2 disc is now the full 18 version which had been previously cut for a 15 video certificate.
Just as a side note, this film also marked Willis' downfall as an actor for a not insignificant length of time, in fact Willis only became fashionable as an actor again in Pulp Fiction...The very same film which made John Travolta a viable prospect again...Bruce owes Quentin Tarantino big time! All in all, a weak film which contradicts itself in the title...Lightning does NOT strike twice because sequels are never as good as the original. Only buy if you want a complete trilogy, or you already own the video and want the full uncut version.
To sum up. It is fairly hard to recommend one disc above the other, although the R2 version is anamorphic. It really depends on whether your a anamorphic fan. However, if value for money is your game, the R1 version has to be the standout winner as for a few extra pounds you end up with the stylish Die Hard box set.