Predator 2: Movie Review

After the great success of Predator (1987), could the producers pass on the opportunity to turn it into a saga? They couldn’t, but things didn’t go as planned because Predator 2, directed by Stephen Hopkins in 1990, bombed at the box office and shut down the franchise for a few years. Yet, this movie had the potential to be great, starting with a cast that boasted Danny Glover, Bill Paxton and Gary Busey.

Here’s the plot. 1997’s Los Angeles is a war zone controlled by Colombian and Jamaican drug gangs (the latter for some reason are devoted to voodoo, even if that actually comes from Haiti). Well, in New York things were even worse… but let’s go back to Predator 2! The first scene of the film is urban warfare in which cops die like flies and only the arrival of Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) prevents further slaughter. In a kamikaze action, the lieutenant stops the shootout single-handedly by killing four thugs armed with machine guns. Then, together with the faithful Danny and Leona (played by Rubén Blades and Maria Conchita Alonso, respectively), he enters a building full of criminals armed to the teeth. Except that once inside someone else has done the dirty work already by killing everyone with melee weapons. It’s a Predator, of course, but heroes don’t know that…

Back to the police station, Harrigan is scolded by his superiors (Kent McCord and Robert Davi) because the operation was to be left to the feds led by Peter Keyes (Gary Busey). Then, the strange deaths among the drug dealers continue and Keyes is not exactly who he says he is… The stubborn Harrigan continues with his investigation, especially motivated by the death of his partner Danny, (the talkative Jerry magnificently played by Bill Paxton also joins the party) until the inevitable final confrontation with the Predator arrives…

So, what do I think of Predator 2? As mentioned, it had a lot of potential, despite the director being far from exceptional. As for the rest: Stan Winston was responsible for the special effects, and he was one of the best in his field! The screenwriters were Jim and John Thomas, the same of the first film. The cast was good, there was even a sort of Lethal Weapon (1987) reunion with Glover, Busey and even Steve Kahan! Unfortunately, the result is inferior to the sum of its parts. In my opinion, the biggest weakness of the movie lies in its script. The story often feels forced and is a bit clunky, plus some fundamental points of the plot are completely underdeveloped. Furthermore, the film is so derivative that at times it seems to be watching something else…

For example, take Danny’s death. It’s a key event to motivate Harrigan to continue with the investigation despite both his superiors and Keyes and his henchmen. Yet, there’s hardly a moment when Harrigan talks about Danny, and we hardly see him getting the news of his death! It would have been worth stopping for a moment, making Harrigan think about it, and maybe witness a change in attitude after the great scene in the cemetery where the Predator shows Harrigan Danny’s bracelet!

Another mistake, in my opinion, concerns Keyes and his companions: they’re presented as tough army guys. Yet, in the final half hour for some inexplicable reasons they become friends with Harrigan, explain to him what they are doing, and even allow him to take control of their operation even though he’s completely outnumbered. I understand the urge to do a remake of the scene from Aliens (1986) in which Ripley takes command during the massacre of the marines led by Apone in the Alien nest, but here it’s all forced and doesn’t seem at all credible given the information that we had up to that point about the characters involved!

And let’s talk about the characters, which are another weak point of the film. In the first movie, McTiernan took his time to introduce them as the Predator only appeared halfway through the film. In Predator 2, the movie starts with the Predator and there’s no time to meet the protagonists. Sure, Harrigan is the classic cop who doesn’t give a damn about the rules and goes straight to the point, nothing too sophisticated (although it’s a little weird that he’s played by Danny Glover who three years earlier, in Lethal Weapon, was too old for this shit). Jerry is a fully-fledged character thanks to the charisma and the skills of Bill Paxton, but what about Leona being pregnant? And what about Danny? And the love affairs of Jerry himself? There are very few scenes to delve a little deeper into these characters who are too sketchy to be interesting.

What else did I find derivative? One member of Keyes’s team admires the creature, just like the android Ash admired the xenomorph in Alien (1979). Keyes yelling “Guess who’s back!” ideally echoes the Terminator’s I’ll be backin The Terminator (1984). Leona really looks a lot like Vasquez from Aliens. And so on…

To conclude, I had fun watching Predator 2, even though at times it’s a bit confusing. It has the right amount of violence and blood as it should be expected from a movie with a Predator in it (he has a lot of new weapons too, one more amazing than the other!). And I must mention the first cinematic cross-over between the universes of Alien and Predator with the xenomorph skull among the hunting trophies in the spaceship infiltrated by Harrigan! The idea of combining the two franchises comes from the 1989 Dark Horse comics, and this was the way used by Hopkins to pay homage to that very idea. Ciao!

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8 risposte a "Predator 2: Movie Review"

  1. I really like Predator 2, the switch to the urban setting is so different from the first film, and the Predator gets to use a lot of new gadgets / weapons. The plot is a bit of a mish-mash but I still enjoyed the action scenes. I think its a very underrated sequel, and its also significant for paving the way for the AvP movies with that Xenomorph skull in the Predaor’s trophies cabinet on their ship.

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    1. The xenomorph skull was a great touch, and the action scenes work. The plot is messy, but you’re probably right in defining it underrated because much worse movies nowadays get a lot of praise for no apparent reason…

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