You can't see the eyes of the demon, until him come callin'
Predator 2 is directed by Stephen Hopkins and stars Danny Glover, Ruben Blades, Gary Busey, Maria Conchita Alonso, and Bill Paxton. Kevin Peter Hall reprises his role as the eponymous Predator.
Almost nothing about John McTiernan's Predator was begging for a sequel, but here we are anyway with Predator 2. The Predator has ditched the jungle as his hunting ground and is now taking the hunt to the big city. One slight problem though: all of the suspense and horror to be had in the original Predator is gone. Now the Predator finds himself in a serviceable-at-best, sci-fi action film that attempts to also be horror by throwing in a few cheap jump scares. Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to return for the sequel, claiming a dislike for both the new director and the new script, and going as far as stating that taking the Predator into an urban environment was a bad idea. Originally, there was not supposed to be any sequel at all, but screenwriters Jim Thomas and John Thomas wanted to wait and see how successful the Predator comic book series would be before they would give any consideration to a Predator sequel. When the comic books turned out to be a smash hit, producer Joel Silver convinced Fox to proceed with a sequel, which, as of 2018, turned out to be the first of three sequels.
The story of Predator 2 takes place during 1997 in a heat-stricken Los Angeles. In addition to the heat, LA is enduring a turf war between Colombian and Jamaican drug cartels. The movie opens with a shootout between the Colombians and the LAPD, while a Predator watches the carnage from the rooftops. Lieutenant Michael Harrigan (Danny Glover) arrives on the scene and helps the police push the Colombians back into their hideout. However, just before Harrigan and the police can storm the building, the Predator sneaks in and slaughters all of the Colombians. Later on, the Predator strikes again and slaughters several Jamaican cartel members. Harrigan and his team, comprised of detectives Leona Cantrell (Maria Conchita Alonso), Danny Archuleta (Ruben Blades), and Jerry Lambert (Bill Paxton), realize that there may be a connection to the killings, as the Predator leaves behind skinned corpses at each crime scene. However, a DEA task force, led by Special Agent Peter Keyes (Gary Busey), impede Harrington's efforts towards tracking down the secret assassin, leading Harrington to believe that Keyes has his own agenda in mind.
The strangest thing about the story is how the Predator doesn't really belong here. Never mind that this is all happening in a baking hot Los Angeles instead of a steamy jungle or some other place that seems prime for the Predator to appear in. What exactly is it about two warring drug cartels that screams, "technologically advanced alien hunter?" The Predator is just some neutral third-party in this drug war, and because he's an extra-terrestrial, he's the deadliest of the bunch. Any further exploration that Predator 2 does of the Predator's origins is completely disjointed from the main story, as if Jim Thomas and John Thomas were busy writing a different movie while they waited to for the Predator comic books to make bank, and then when the comic books did turn out successful, they didn't want to scrap the movie they already started, so they just found a way to sneak the Predator into the script. Whatever the case, Predator 2 feels more like a crime movie that just happens to have the Predator in it instead of....well, a Predator movie.
- Though Predator 2 represents something of a major dip in quality when compared to the first film, the action it provides is still entertaining enough. The kills are still bloody, though not as high on the nasty scale. The Predator does get to show off a few cool new tricks, such as changing his thermal vision to better match his surroundings. Too bad that the majority of thermal vision shots we see are entirely pointless; the Predator just watches people have a conversation, and we get no impression that the Predator's eavesdropping is going to build up to anything later on. I'm glad Kevin Peter Hall came back to work in the Predator suit again; he makes the creature's movements look realistic and make it look like the Predator has some mobility to him, as opposed to the stiff limitations brought on by CGI.
- The bad writing goes beyond the nonsensical plot (nonsensical because it's supposed to center on the Predator); it also presents weak characters who aren't that much fun to watch. Bill Paxton is the obvious comic relief, except he has neither nothing funny to do nor nothing funny to say. Maria Conchita Alonso and Gary Busey are....there. They fire a few bullets and have separate encounters with the Predator. I guess that counts for something. But Danny Glover, oh boy. The fact that he's one of those cliched obsessed cops is forgivable, but the way that Glover goes about saying his lines and just the overall way he presents himself: it's not good. Glover is incredibly uptight throughout the whole movie, attempting to recapture the macho from Schwarzenegger and everybody in the first movie by unloading petty insults to everyone that pisses him off even a little bit, and by resolving a tough situation by any violent means necessary, such as punching a reporter who starts following him. The Predator singles out Glover's character only because of how obsessed he is, but I assure you, watching some random cop go up against a Predator is nowhere near as exciting as watching a brawny man like Schwarzenegger face off against one. In short, Glover doesn't have much to work with other than acting obsessed and angry all the time, and it doesn't seem like anyone cared to make his character stand out more.
If there's anything else outside of some decent action that Predator 2 has going for itself, it's that the film has developed a cult following over the years. I, however, don't see exactly what it is about this movie that makes it deserving of cult status; there's no memorable dialogue, and the plot is senseless. There's also nothing resembling unintentional hilarity, and if Predator 2 was unintentionally hilarious, then, my gosh, would I have a lot more nice things to say! The whole thing is a far cry from the muscle, the action, and the horror in the first film, being hampered by a flimsy lead performance from Danny Glover and a script that makes the Predator seem like he's in the wrong movie. It's a good sci-fi action time waster, at best and if you look at it on its own. But given what this movie is supposed to follow up on, Predator 2 can only be viewed as a colossal disappointment.
Recommend? No. You might enjoy it if you loved the first movie, but that's no guarantee.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: