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Predator 2: A bit too much of a bad thing is, surprise, surprise, a bad thing.
Predator was an instant classic. It was almost inevitable that a sequel would soon follow. The same can't be said about Predator 2. It has many of the same elements as the first movie. But it just doesn't come together as well.
[Probably some spoilers coming up.]
But first, the story.
The movie came out in 1990 but is set in "future" 1997 LA.
There is an uncommon heat wave hitting that city, and the local gang violence has shot up tremendously. Particularly between warring Colombian and Jamaican drug cartels.
Our hero, Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover), is a cop on the streets, leading a small team in the war against this cartel violence. He's tough, no-nonsense and quite the maverick. (He even later appears briefly in Maverick, but that's beside the point.)
But, as we learned in the first movie, the Predators are drawn to warm climates with plenty of conflict.
An unseen third party comes in and begins to kill off members of these two cartels, seemingly without provocation. Harrigan and his team try to investigate, only to be blocked by a federal team led by Peter Keyes (Gary Busey) and his assistant, Garber (Adam "no relation to Alec" Baldwin). They claim to be trying to stop the cartels increasing their foothold, but it's quickly apparent that they have a different agenda altogether.
Yadda yadda yadda. Lots of people die, then finally Harrigan and Keyes confront the Predator in a slaughterhouse where Keyes finds he's just half as good a fighter as he thinks he is. The ensuing fight between Harrigan and the dreadlocked menace moves to the roof, to the bathroom of a neighboring apartment, then all the way onto the Predator's own ship.
I'm not going to tell you who wins, but the Predator dies.
Dot dot dot
As I said at the beginning, there are lots of elements present in Predator 2 that Predator had. That's not surprising as it came out only three years after the first one and with the same screenwriters.
That's not to say that it feels like the same movie, because it definitely doesn't. Largely the movie just feels unfocused.
In the first movie, Schwarzenegger's team was heading through the jungle for extraction when they were attacked. It makes sense for the Predator to zero in on this team as they're the only humans for miles and plenty of challenge for the ultimate hunter. And every attack brings a slightly better understanding of the enemy they're facing.
The way he can get past their traps. Ohmygosh he's invisible! He doesn't kill the unarmed. The narrative is always moving forward.
Here, though, the attacks largely feel like they were put in just to have more fight scenes.
Predator 2 - trailer
But what about the monster?
From a monster movie standpoint, this one may just eke out ahead of the original by a fraction. It's still very much about a cool enemy, but this Predator just feels more brutal and ruthless. That also tends to leave me with a bit more of an icky feeling, though.
However, they can't help but teach us a few more things about the Predator and his society.
- We get to see plenty of new weapons that we didn't see in the first one.
- The Predator spares the life of a police woman who he recognizes is pregnant.
- And after the titular Predator is killed, when Harrigan should be doing the dance of joy, a whole swarm of Predators (or is it a pride? A pack? Ooh, a murder!) uncloaks around him and he's suddenly glad he wore his brown pants that day. They look at their fallen compatriot and all they do is carry him off in a stretcher, hand Harrigan an 18th century gun as a trophy, and kick him off their ship.
So, the cool enemy becomes even cooler.
And with an entire city of victims to hunt, it's a bit too much of a coincidence that the one subway car the Predator attacks happens to have two members of Harrigan's team on it. (One played by Bill Paxton, which makes him eligible for the first person to be assaulted or killed by a Terminator, a xenomorph and a Predator. Can you name the second person?)
Or, why does the Predator go back to the site of an earlier attack and kill Danny (Rubén Blades)?
It's just another attack to keep up tension, but that doesn't really move anything forward.
And it's not until way past halfway that Harrigan actually begins to realize just what he's facing.
Also, this one seems to enjoy the blood much more than Predator. There was plenty of it there too, but this one has much much more. A much much higher body count as well.
And in case you're wondering, yes, that's the skull of a xenomorph soldier on the wall of the Predator ship. The Alien Vs. Predator comic series had already been a big success, as I understand it, and since Fox owned the rights to both franchises, they felt it would be a cool little Easter egg for the fans.
Where does that leave us?
In the end, Predator 2 is a fair followup to the original, but with storytelling that feels much less focused, and much more interested in simply showing you some bloody action violence. The acting is, at times, a little over the top, but as a whole, the movie could have been much worse.
But what do you think?
Personally, I give this one a 5 / 10.
Predator 2 is rated R for plenty of bloody action violence and gore, drug use, nudity (hanging bodies and a female-full-frontal sex scene), plenty of heavy swearing and general scares.