Predator 2 (1990)

Starring Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Rubén Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton, Robert Davi, Adam Baldwin, Kent McCord, Morton Downey Jr., Calvin Lockhart, Kevin Peter Hall

Directed by Stephen Hopkins

Expectations: Low. I re-watched this a few years ago (right before starting SE and hated it).

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

What a difference a couple of years makes. Many times I’ve mentioned how my love of B-Movies has allowed me to sit back and enjoy many films that I would’ve never been able to before. Predator 2 is a great example as I loved it when it was new, but re-watching it just a few years ago proved trying on my patience. I bitched about how it wasn’t doing what I thought a Predator movie should do, and that they probably should have never made a sequel. But in the interest of reviewing the Predator series leading up to my eventual reviews of the two AVP films (Oh God, am I actually watching those movies?), I reluctantly put the disc in and threw all expectations out the window. C’mon, Predator 2! I’m here! Do it! Kill me now! Give me your best.

Predator 2 responded with such force and vigilance that I was shaken to my core. How could I have possibly disliked this film just a few, short years ago? It’s all thanks to starting Silver Emulsion and really exploring my love of film in its many forms that I’m now able to recapture that childhood glee of watching Danny Glover take on the baddest motherfucker this side of Jupiter. I take back every bad thing I ever said about Predator 2 in the last couple of years, because Predator 2 is pure fun.

Roughly 10 years have passed since the events of Predator, and we find ourselves in a near future where cops drive around in Pontiac Trans Sport minivans and wage war against violent factions of drug-running criminals. Dropped right into the center of the hot conflict is the Predator, but this isn’t the noble hunter of the original. Nope, this fucker is all about style and panache. He immediately picks Glover out of the crowd and seems to target him as an ultimate goal. I guess Arnold’s victory proved to the Predator clans that humans could be more than simple prey. Anyway, this Predator has a shitload more weapons at his disposal, which again skewers that macho hunter vibe of the original, but plays into the reckless braggart character that seems to typify this particular Predator. He prefers massacre to a careful kill; why else would he assault a moving subway train full of people? To brag about it at the bar back home on Predator Planet, of course. We could also explain these additions and changes to the mythology with the “bigger budget” argument, but where’s the fun in that?

So the thing about Predator 2 to keep in mind is that it’s concerned solely with entertainment. You won’t get great characters and meaningful dialogue. It’s all about the action, and the action delivers over and over again. The film is filled with lots of wonderful Steadicam too, which helps to deliver the action to us in the most visceral way possible while also looking damn cool. Many of these Steadicam shots are very long takes, requiring a whole crowd of actors and extras to coordinate and fabricate a realistic crowd scene. It’s something that feels like a lost art these days where most of the background people would be digital multiplied.

There’s also many echoes to scenes in the original film which may or may not rub you the wrong way, depending on how uptight you are about the original. I was once that uptight guy, firmly believing that these moments were cheap and referential in a way that defamed the original, but I now see them for what they are: great fun. Writers Jim & John Thomas (who also wrote the original) play with the conventions they established, much to my enjoyment this time around. It feels like there’s not much to explore at the end of Predator (and really, there’s not), but the Thomas brothers found a great way to continue the franchise by transplanting the action into the city. Any film that once hinged on the “What is that thing?” mystery always has a tough time at creating a worthy sequel because, well, we know what that thing is already. Predator 2 goes a little more traditional action/horror, and because we’re all aware of what he’s capable of, it’s a lot of fun to watch the Predator outsmart the cops and eventually to see Glover hold his own against him. This Predator’s added abilities — and cockiness — are fun to discover, but our knowledge of the previously defined character traits inform nearly every scene to result in a very rich experience. I can’t really ask more from a sequel than that.

And if all that isn’t enough, you also get great moments like the Predator actually saying “Motherfucker,” or when Glover brakes Predator’s breathing mask and the Predator has to hold it up to his face and suck on it like an intergalactic Dennis Hopper from Blue Velvet. It’s so interesting to see how my perceptions of this one have changed: going from childhood love, to hate, and now back to the pure joy of childhood love. Predator 2 is a good thing, and it doesn’t deserve the bad rap it always seems to get. Oh, and I love Danny Glover.

8 comments to Predator 2 (1990)

  • Stephen

    That’s good to know. I remember liking it when I was a child, but I haven’t seen it since. I’ve heard so much about how horrible it is that I’ve been hesitant to give it another shot even though I kinda wanted to. I’ll definitely give it another go if I run into again.

    Oh, and I always used to get taken to and from school in one of those Trans Sports, so it’ll have extra fun for me! Who knew I was in the prefect vehicle for taking on drug lords?

    I also find it odd that you keep finding these awesome Japanese posters for American films when I have trouble finding Japanese posters for some of the Japanese films I review. Crazy.

    • Oh man, yeah if you re-watch it just go in with low expectations, and a knowledge that it’s nothing like the first one. If you just roll with it, it’s so much fun.

      Hahahaha! That’s great about the Trans Sport! All you needed was an uzi and you coulda ruled the streets! I have a thing for real cars being used as future cars in movies so I generally try to point it out, and I’m glad I did!

      I love Japanese posters for American movies, so I try to use them when I can. I specifically sought out the one for Alien, as I’ve loved that one forever, but I generally just happen to run into them when I’m hunting down posters. It is crazy how hard some of your anime posters are to find, though. I can find original posters from movies from every era, but anime is sometimes almost impossible! Anime needs to up their marketing skills!

  • This film is so much better than I remember as a kid. I hated it because it didn’t have Arnie in it, and Glover wasn’t a major draw for my teenage brain. So I just thought it kinda sucked.

    Now, though, I agree – Predator 2 is its own beast of a film, and there’s plenty to like (mind you, there’s also plenty to hate, like Gary Busey’s gargantuan smile dominating every scene he’s in, and the screeching banshee that is Bill Paxton in this (and I didn’t think Morton Downey Jr was convincing, even as a selfish, shallow reporter type!) and I think it still stands the test of time. The gory penthouse massacre sequence is pretty well filmed, and the use of the Predator’s changing methods of visualisation – which must have been an “oh FUUUUCK” moment for cinema audiences when they realised the old “infra red” visual cues no longer applied – is also pretty sweetly rendered.

    It’s a pity the mythology of the Predators wasn’t given as much background as the Alien franchise managed with its own monsters….. even Robert Rodriguez’s production of Predators tried and failed to a certain degree, even if that film was a vast improvement on the treatment Predator got in the AVP films….

    • I remember the first time I watched it, I had heard from some kid at school that Arnold was in it for a cameo, so the whole time I was waiting for that to happen. I still liked it, but I was disappointed that it didn’t have Arnold. I recently found out that the Gary Busey character was originally supposed to be Arnold, but when he decided not to do it, they changed the role a bit and got Busey. And honestly for this movie, it works better without Arnold. I’m really coming into a love of Busey’s work, so I loved everything he brought to the film (including that smile you hate).

      I kind of like not knowing much about the Predators. It seems like the more they add, the more it dilutes what makes them great. I still have yet to see the AVPs, but if they’re worse than Predators, I’m in for a rough ride.

  • Great review, Will. I’m still waiting to cross the original one off my need-to-see list, but you make a good case for the sequel being fun. Funny how your perceptions of it changed over time.

    • Thanks! Oh man, you haven’t seen Predator! You’re missing out on one of the true action classics! This one gets a lot of crap for not being the first one, but it’s has a trashy brand of fun that I can appreciate. I’m so glad I came back around on this one. There was a film snob period when I had a hard time appreciating trashy things, but that’s all better now. Thanks to the website here, I’m coming into an appreciation of film in its many different forms.

  • I loved the first film, but I also think this is really fun as well. The Predator saying Motherfucker haha was fantastic 😀
    Good review, Will.

    • Yes, it’s the little things, and the Predator saying “Motherfucker” is quite enjoyable. Trashy and ridiculous, but perfect for this movie. Glad you enjoyed the review. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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