Director – Stephen Hopkins
Cast – Danny Glover, Kevin Peter Hall, Gary Busey, Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton, Robert Davi, Adam Baldwin, Kent McCord
Release Year – 1990
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Three years after the success of “Predator” we were given a positive sequel by the franchise’s original writers. Yet to have an “official” Predator trilogy(AVP is a pseudo-sequel to this film) Predator 2 is the last true Predator film we have and although it ended on a positive note…I sure would like to see one more in addition to the story. There is a “Predator” reboot in talks right now and it said to have Robert Rodriguez(“From Dusk Till Dawn“, Desperado, “Planet Terror“) producing the film. I am not for the idea of a reboot and would definitely prefer an addition to the story, but hell, if Robert Rodriguez is attached to it then I’m sure it would turn out well. He sure knows horror!
Predator 2 takes place ten years after the events of the first film and another predator has been sent to Earth. However instead of the wrecking jungles of Central America this predator is in the heart of East LA. Danny Glover stars as Lt. Mike Harrigan, a touch as nails cop who has no respect for policy and does what he has to do to get the job done. The LAPD are at war with the different warring drug lords yet someone else seems to be “taking out the trash”. Many of the drug runners and drug lords are being killed in ritualistic fashion. At first it seems they are simply killing each other off, but the fact that no physical evidence anyone actually being at the scene of the deaths leaves the police baffled and chasing their tails. Little do they know that there is an alien creature on the loose playing it’s sick little game with the armed drug dealers. When the “feds” are called in to take control of the case Lt. Harrigan senses alterior motives and begins to do his own investigating of what the “feds” are really up to. This leads him into the predator’s deadly game that has left his fellow officers gored and left him with nothing on his mind but vengeance.
I was a bit skeptical of this film at first due to the fact that the setting was changed so drastically. It seems to be love/hate between fans of the first film, but I personally enjoyed the drastic change. The predator being placed in the highly populated city of LA was a pretty genius move given he does not have the same foliage to hide in, and we are able to see lots more kills given there are…well…lots more people! As I mentioned earlier, the original “Predator” writers returned for this film and did things right by incorporating a lot more predator action, and early on in the film too. “Predator” had to develop the plot and therefore had to leave much of the predator action for later on in the film. Thanks to that, this sequel was able to kick things off right away and give us some predator action during the very first sequence of the film.
This flick paces pretty well, mainly because of how often we get to see the predator doing his thing. Director Stephen Hopkins had just finished directing “Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child”(part 5) and most likely still had those horror elements in his mind. We get some moderate gore throughout the film, mainly in the style of decapitated heads, impaled bodies, and of course another classic “skull and spinal column” scene like in the first film. I really liked that the predator’s weaponry was upgraded and in pretty sweet fashion. The first film simply gave us a predator with the little “parrot gun” on his shoulder and his Wolverine-ish claws. Predator 2 brought back special effects guru Stan Winston and he designed a sweet looking retracting spear, a boomerang saw that cuts through pretty much anything, a projectile net that tightens and rips through whatever it snares, and other little projectiles made of lightweight metal but “cut through steel”. I loved that this predator had some upgraded close-combat weapons. It allowed more on-screen time for the predator given he had to be much closer to make his kills compared to his far away shots in the first film. Also we get much more screen time of the predator without his mask. I personally love the look of this dude and found that to be one of the best aspects of this film.
I did find a lot more flaws with this film compared with the first and they almost all had to do with the film’s characters. The dialogue in this film was pretty bad and had me really annoyed early on. One of Lt. Harrigan’s fellow cops, Leona Cantrell(Maria Conchita Alonso) is the epitome of the overly cliché tough-as-nails latina cop and her dialogue proves it. Not only is her acting overdone and unrealistic but her lines in the film were poorly written. Bill Paxton has a role in this film as Jerry Lambert, a cocky new transfer to Lt. Harrigan’s team and although I love Bill Paxton as an actor his character in this film sucked as well. His dialogue was ridiculous and once again unrealistic. I would not go as far as to say that he overacted like Ms. Alonso did mainly because the way his character was written honestly called for his loudmouthed and overly exotic personality. Gary Busey played his role quite well as the overly cocky “fed” Agent Peter Keys. The writers in this film seem very keen to exploiting stereotypes as even the “feds” in this film were personified as the cocky, suspicious government “types” we see all the time in lesser films. So what is it with this film’s writing and cliché characters? The “overzealous cop”, the “touch as nails Latina”, the “cocky new transfer”, and the “cocky, suspicious government agents” are way too much cliché for one film. Seriously!
Aside from all of this poor scriptwriting I did find the third movement of the film to be pretty awesome. The scenes of Lt. Harrigan chasing the predator literally THROUGH the apartments and streets of LA were pretty iconic and well directed. The sequence where the “feds” have the predator cornered in the slaughterhouse was pretty well done and so complex that it took director Stephen Hopkins(he also did The Ghost and The Darkness and The Reaping) four days to complete the scene. All this however pales in comparison to the final battle sequence on the alien ship between Lt. Harrigan and the predator. SPOILER: the scene where Lt. Harrigan stares at all of the different “trophies” the predators have kept is amazing and shocked Alien/Predator enthusiasts when we were shown an “Alien” skull on the wall. Much like the iconic ending of “Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday”, it took many years for the iconic battle between the two rival franchises to take place.
Overall, this is a positive sequel that gets it’s credibility from the classic third movement and it’s sense of creativity that most sequels do not give us. The dialogue between most of the characters could have been a lot better, but if you can look past that then this flick has the rest of the goods to make it worth watching, and pretty damn enjoyable.