Predator 2 (1990)
Release Date: November 21st, 1990 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Stephen Hopkins Actors: Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton, Robert Davi, Adam Baldwin, Kent McCord, Morton Downey Jr., Calvin Lockhart
n 1997 in Los Angeles (oddly set seven years into the future), with temperatures reaching 109 degrees, an alien trophy hunter descends upon the concrete jungle to prey on a sampling of humanity’s warriors. A Columbian and Jamaican drug-lord turf war is in full swing on the streets, with machinegun-toting thugs duking it out as all sorts of collateral damage occurs. Law enforcement is woefully outgunned and outmanned, but Lieutenant Michael R. Harrigan (Danny Glover), along with detectives Danny (Ruben Blades) and Leona (Maria Conchita Alonso), is committed to stopping the salvos of gunfire. But when they make their way up to the Scorpion Gang headquarters, all the rivaling mobsters are dead – killed without the use of bullets, before the assailant slinks past the officers undetected.
DEA Special Task Force Agent Peter J. Keyes (Gary Busey) is given jurisdiction over the gangland fighting, supposedly to prevent King Willie (Calvin Lockhart), the voodoo priest of the local posses, from usurping the entire West Coast. But it’s quickly evident that Keyes, with all of his hi-tech gadgetry, isn’t a Fed – and that the new player in town is something more than human. Harrigan wants to get to the bottom of the slayings, as well as Keyes’ true motives, but his mission is impeded by his superiors – and made agonizingly personal when Danny is dispatched by the alien menace.
As with the first film, “Predator 2” opens with a spectacular action sequence, which attempts to outdo the staggering amount of spent ammo seen in the predecessor. But this new scene lacks the impressiveness of Schwarzenegger and his musclebound crew engaging in their over-the-top, heroic rescue operation (there’s something impersonal and unsympathetic about gang warfare). There’s also a significant amount of bloodshed, as the intention is clearly a mix of horror and action.
A stereotypically chaotic police precinct is the first of many practically comedic inclusions, followed by a subway gimmick in which every commuter unveils a handgun to thwart a mugging (which leads to an atmospheric but confusing ambush), and a little old lady disturbed by the predator’s improvised self-surgery. Bill Paxton’s hotshot cop Jerry Lambert provides nothing but comic relief, while Busey fails to appear as tough and serious as he should be. And Glover is far from the appropriately formidable soldier, instead merely allowed to live on several occasions, rather than skillfully persevering (though his acting talent breathes a little life into a battleground of indistinct troopers). Fortunately, Alan Silvestri’s sensational score is reused nicely, extending suspense and gravity to otherwise generic monster movie scenarios.
The special effects haven’t improved much since the original, with the chameleonic invisibility cloak still largely unconvincing, but the predator gets some new toys, spiffier technology, and a different playground with which to interact. A computer tracking and monitoring system is highly derivative of “Aliens” and an interruptive “Special Report” news clip segment resembles concepts from “Robocop,” but a slaughterhouse onslaught and a clever twist on the recognizable self-destruct mechanism are welcome additions. Hunting patterns, habits, and origins are also elaborated upon, while the final moments aboard the spaceship shed some light on the amusing possibility of 20th Century Fox’s other alien franchise coexisting in the same cinematic universe.
– Mike Massie