Die Hard 2 question (spoilers, but who cares? the movie is 30 years old)

I just watched Die Hard 2 for the first time in a decade or so, at least and I have one big question and I’m wondering if I missed something.

What, exactly, is Special Forces guy William Stewart (and his flunkies) plan? What happened to turn a group of say, 50 or so people (including the second squad led by John Amos’s team) to Eeeee-vil? I could see a few people tempted to hang out in some Panama-esqe nation for the rest of their lives, but 50 trained, ostentably loyal soldiers? Bwah?

Also, who cares if Noriega-lite gets away? Why the huge effort to stop him (before John knows Holly is in danger)?

The movie’s not bad, much of the acting is terrible (Sen Fred Thompson as the air traffic controller and the Ernest/Hillbilly Janitor are cringeworthy) but there’s enough star performances by like John Amos (who makes everyone else–including Willis–look like third graders trying to do “Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead”.) make up for it.

But…what’s the bad-guy’s motive?

I don’t think fanatics need reasons. I got the impression that Col. Stewart was from the “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” school, and if a few airliners have to be crashed to keep us safe from communism, that’s the way it goes.

As for why everyone was fighting so hard to stop them, I guess they just thought that was the best way to regain control of the ATC system and safely land the planes that were circling. Col. Stewart promises to return their systems once he is away with Esperanza, but it’s never made clear whether he would have kept that promise.

To be honest, there were such massive technological fuck ups in the movie that I never gave much thought to the human ones.

Plus, the bad guys don’t act like bad guys (even when no one is watching) until the movie does the big reveal. They don’t act like real people.

plus, if you fire a machine gun in the office I’m going to shoot you. I’m not going to wait to see if you are firing blanks. Bye bye John.

I just never understood why none of those planes were diverted to other airports that are a few minutes away. It’s not like landing in Baltimore is a fate worse than death.

Yeah, that’s the real hard spot. The number of airports near enough to Dulles for a plane to divert in an hour is at least a dozen.

I hate this movie. HATE it. I mean, I concede that some movies are worse than it, objectively speaking, but there is no movie I hate more. It’s very existence offends me.

Nothing in this movie makes sense. There’s that, of course, and there’s also the idea that the airport is the only one who can communicate with planes in the air. you know who else can communicate with planes in the air? Other planes in the air. All they had to do was launch a couple of F-18s out of Norfolk and have them lead the airliners to safety.

But then, the inaction of the U.S. government is the biggest mystery of the film. They sent one team? One FUCKING team? Terrorists have taken a major airport - the U.S. capital’s airport - and thousands of people hostage. You don’t send one team, you send everyone. EVERYONE!!!

… sorry. Got carried away there a bit. But I really do hate this movie.

In addition to the issues with contacted the planes from other airports, there is the question of how they could be sure that only the compromised response team would be sent. It would have makes a lot more sense if you assume that no one else actually knows. If all communications with the outside were compromised but the airport personnel do not know it then it makes more sense. They think the U.S. government sent John Amos and his team, but in actuality no one in authority knows.

This would be almost impossible even at the time, but it actually makes a lot of things more plausible.

They were his men, so they were loyal to him. Plus, I’m sure money had a lot to do with it.

The movie is indeed ludicrous in every respect, but it’s a fun romp. Things happen so fast, you don’t have time to realize how stupid they are while you’re watching.

The thing that sticks in my mind is how the FNG dies instantaneously when John Amos slits his throat. First of all, as noted elsewhere, commandos jam the knife in the victim’s neck and twist it to kill him at once. Second, if your throat is merely slit, you don’t go to the Great Beyond quietly. You scream and gurgle as you slowly drown in your own blood.

Nitpick alert: its Stuart not Stewart.

As for motivation, I can’t find it streaming to rewatch. Didn’t Stuart work with the General before the US decided he was a bad guy? I always figured it was a cult of personality thing where they became loyal to the general and felt betrayed when the US turned on him. It was only partially about the money.
I find it interesting that this is based off of a book that had nothing to do with the first movie or the characters.

Have you been to Baltimore?

I never understood the guys plan after they take-off. So the bad guy plane takes off in the clear from the airport. Now they can call in some fighters to track the aircraft and probably shoot it down if it refuses to land again. No way in hell they’re escaping all the way back to South America even if they try to fly low to avoid RADAR coverage.

Just so you know, a glideslope transmitter is a dumb radio thing mounted on the ground next to the runway. No software or computers are involved. The only way to move the signal is to physically move the transmitter.

That was only the second most egregious offense against aeronautical reality in the flick, behind “Why didn’t they just all divert to BWI or PHL?”, already well-discussed here.

But it’s always cool seeing John Amos get sucked into a jet engine. Gotta give it that. :smiley:

Communism? I thought it was all about drug money. :confused:

Wasn’t Stuart kind of an Oliver North–type figure who’d been disgraced for something that wasn’t kosher? That’s a good motive for revenge any day of the week.

No need to apologize, I totally agree (and love that scene).

Yeah, this one was stupid from the opening scene. Besides all the little giveaways that they were filming it on the West Coast (the phone labels), the knowledge of airports and the way things work is at a less-than-third-grade level. Hell, when I first saw it I screamed “Land at Andrews, you idiots! Or at least Washington National (now Ronald Reagan)” at the screen. There were way to few people coming and going as well. Even in the middle of a blizzard at midnight, Dulles is busy.

But of course it was all redeemed when a line of jet fuel spilling into the snow was lit and behaved exactly like a Yosemite Sam gunpowder trail.

Yeah, I almost mentioned that.

They do make a reference early in the movie that National Airport has shut down and its planes are being diverted to Dulles. I think it’s assumed, if not stated outright, that the storm is sufficiently widespread that lot of other airports are shut down so the planes have to land at Dulles. Pretty convenient that the bad guys put in all the planning to take over an airport and then got the storm they needed on the same night the guy they wanted to liberate was coming.

Forget calling in F-18s to communicate with the circling planes. You know who else can communicate with planes in the air? Planes on the ground. Every plane parked at Dulles has a transmitter on it.

The good guys are going crazy looking for a way to communicate with the circling planes. They could go to any plane, power it up, and be on the air in minutes.

Yeah, but they still wouldn’t have been able to guide them out of the area. As it went, I was amazed there were no midair collisions among all those jetliners circling Dulles with zero visibility.

Well, they weren’t just flying around at random. Before they lost their communications, the Dulles tower would have assigned each plane a location (based on navigation transmitters on the ground) and the pilots would fly an oval holding pattern around that point. Multiple planes would be assigned the same hold point, but at different altitudes, hence the term “stacking”.

… Assuming the bad guys hadn’t messed with them.