Predathon Part 2: ‘Predator 2’
As established in our first entry into this miniseries, I LOVED Predator as a child. So much, in fact, that we were hyped as hell for the sequel even though Arnie wasn’t in it! I haven’t seen this movie for almost 30 years, so let’s see how it shapes up…
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Cast: Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Bill Paxton, Rubén Blades, María Conshita Alonso, Adam Baldwin, Kevin Peter Hall
Plot: Los Angeles has been embroiled in a gang war between rival factions. In the middle of it all if Lieutenant Michael R. Harrigan and his elite team of detectives. The violence escalates further with the arrival of a new Predator in this urban environment.
Review: The first thing one notices about this sequel is the lack of Dutch. Arnie declined the offer of returning due to a pay dispute. As a result we have a new cast in a new setting. Which, one paper, is a good idea. It keeps the series fresh and interesting rather than working on the flimsy premise of Dutch encountering another alien invader. Instead we have Harrigan, played by Danny Glover, in the war zone L.A. appears to have been in 1997.
Recasting the main role with Glover shouldn’t be a problem in itself, but he’s held back by the writing for the character. They want us to view him as the ultimate badass plays-by-his-own-rules cop. When speculating on how a corpse was hoisted from a high ceiling, one cop says to Harrigan, “even you couldn’t lift him up there”, letting us know that if Harrigan couldn’t manage this feat of strength, no-one could. They talk about his (frankly horrifying) history of assaulting suspects and acting outside of regulations, but he’s so hardcore he gets the job done.
What they never do is SHOW us any of this badassery. Glover pants and gasps his way through the role in baggy clothing. Remember this is the guy whose signature role is a cop who has gotten ‘too old for this shit’. We haven’t forgotten that. They tell us that he’s the ultimate macho badass, but he looks like a cop past his prime.
Plus he’s an idiot. He’s introduced to audiences ramming his car into an active gun fight. Why? That’s a stupid thing to do. His next plan to break past the line of gun men is to drape some kevlar vests over this passenger door – NOT his driver side – and then drive straight towards the bad guys. Did you expect them to bend the bullet’s flight path?
Thankfully some of the support cast make up for it. First up we have Gary Busey acting completely bananas. He’s a government agent who is later revealed to be a clued in to the Predator’s history and hopes to capture it for study. Hearing Busey growl “Lions. Tigers. Bears. Oh my.” is amazing. He’s followed around by Adam Baldwin, who provides excellent accidental comedy trying to read the sciencey lines. American treasure Bill Paxton provides actual comic relief as a smarmy, sleazeball new recruit.
Back to the story: LA is a ridiculous conflict zone where gangs of gross ethnic stereotypes hang out in alleyways doing voodoo and opening shooting automatic weapons as cops. For the bulk of the first half the Predator is wiping out criminal gangs, then Harrigan’s specific unit of detectives. When that’s all finished with Harrigan makes the connection between the victims being armed and dangerous. That’s pointless though because Busey explains everything to him. Arnie had to suss it out himself, and the audience worked it out with him, this feels like pandering.
Actually there is one thing that does well out of this instalment and that’s the Predator itself. I love the fact that Stan Winston created a new design that was the same species but an individual member of the species. Whilst most of this film goes largely ignored, changes and additions to the Predator lore and armoury have been embraced. We learn that the Predator’s mask lets him see in different spectrums when required, not just heat, and it’s packing a razor sharp net, a retractable spear, a throwing disc and darts. This variation to the action is a big step forward in the franchise (although maybe it’s time to waterproof the invisibility). Being in a city environment also gives us some new interactions for the creature. We’d seen them spare unarmed witnesses, but in this film it also spares a child and releases one of it’s captives when it sees that she’s pregnant. This all contributes to the ‘honourable hunter’ archetype that makes this creature unique.
Anyway, once Harrigan and Busey – I’m sure his character had a name, but I don’t care, he’s Busey – team up and swap stories we get into the final confrontation. Or, more accurately, rip off Aliens. We get a cheap recreation of the classic scene where the soldiers are being monitored through shoulder mounted cameras and then Harrigan goes in for a one to one battle. Most of this sequence isn’t too shabby, it’s got some creative moments. The exchange of “don’t worry, I’m a cop” being met by an old lady with “I don’t think he gives a shit” still generates a laugh.
Everything comes to a head in the Predator’s spaceship, located underground. Nice design work all round here. It also features the famous inclusion of a xenomorph skull in the trophy cabinet, setting the stage for the highly anticipated cross over. Combining this with the remix of the original theme music leads to a pretty cool ending to the film.
There’s some schlocky fun to be had here, but the complete lack of a believable action lead and an interesting cast of characters really weighs it all down.
Rating: FOUR out of TEN
Coolest Moment: I’ll give Danny Glover credit for this bit…after being slashed and beaten half to death by one Predator, he’s confronted by nine more. “Ok…who’s next?” Awesome delivery.
Rating the Predators: Some moderate schlock, but it fails to get to the choppa.
- Predator 2