Director: Steven Hopkins
Cast: Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Ruben Blades, Bill Paxton, Maria Conchita Alonso, Robert Davi
Plot: The Predator returns to Earth this time targeting crazed drug dealers. Lieutenant Harrigan of the LAPD (Glover) investigates the path of carnage the Predator leaves in its wake.
Predator 2 suffers from several negative reviews and harsh press, when really it is probably the best we could have hoped for. Hopkins keeps the trademark nature of the first Predator movie, but changes the setting and avoids casting an Arnie stand-in. We still get the Predator mythology, the gory deaths and tense cat and mouse chase, but it feels fresh and not duplicated. Compared to Rodriguez’s take at a sequel that almost copies the first film shot for shot, Hopkins leaves his own mark on the franchise.
Predator 2 takes place in the city, opening with a frantic gun battle between the LAPD and cocaine dealers, stoned and crazed. This battle introduces us to Officer Harrigan and his rag-tag team. There are fewer good guys to get to grips with here, so we quickly become familiar with whom to side with. The heist is interrupted by an invisible alien that confuses everyone but the knowing viewers of the original film. Harrigan is thrown into the world of cocaine smugglers, tracking down this ‘evil spirit’ acting as a vigilante. Of course, unaware that he is dealing with a murderous alien, Harrigan is quickly thrown out of his comfort zone.
While the original fooled us into thinking we were watching a Vietnam film, Hopkins gives us a Predator take on the typical 80s cop movie. Not long after the shoot-out, we are into familiar territory that wouldn’t look out of place in a Beverly Hills Cops movie. A grumpy police chief, corrupt FBI agents muscling into the investigation and we are introduced to several colourful characters (including Bill Paxton playing Bill Paxton). Danny Glover could even be said to be playing a parody of Lethal Weapon’s Murtaugh Riggs. He is old and a reluctant hero. If it wasn’t for the Predator showing its face every now and again, I would assume that Predator 2 was a Lethal Weapon spin-off.
Danny Glover is on top form here. His only error is not being Arnold Schwarzenegger. In all honesty, getting another muscle-bound action star would have been a cop-out move: something unoriginal I would expect from a B-Movie reincarnation of the franchise. Glover mixes the movie up a little. His sarcastic quips hold the script together and I think the movie is better off with the actor in it. Even when he is required to do the showdown for the climax of the movie, Glover pulls it off to the best of his capabilities. Sure, he is no Arnie, but the showdown does not disappoint. It is everything we want from a Predator finale sequence.
There is a sense that Hopkins over-indulges in the Predator somewhat. While the movie works well with the final fight and Glover’s lines, when we see the Predator slaughtering the drug dealers, it feels like the beginning of a long line of overtly violent clichés. Nameless villains are introduced just to be slaughtered off. It doesn’t feel the same as watching the original cast get chipped away by the killer after getting attached to them. There isn’t the same sense of warmth and character that we got with the other movie, which is bizarre as this time we get blockbuster stars, Gary Busey and Ruben Blades. I guess hoping for a sequel to match the original was a little too much to hope for.
Oh well: shit happens.
Final verdict: While not as good as the first Predator, the sequel is more enjoyable than critics would have you believe. Danny Glover is a great lead and the finale is everything we hoped for and more.