Predator 2

It’s been a long time since I saw Predator 2.  I daresay it has been since I saw it originally in the early 90s.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t caught bits and pieces of it on TV since then, but never have I sat down to watch it, from beginning to end, in the two decades since.  Why watch what I remember as was one of the most disappointing movies ever? Predator cost about $15 million to make, and grossed nearly $100 million at the box office, so 20th Century Fox green-lit a sequel.  It only made sense.  You remember the cast from the first one?  The special-ops commandos who get dropped out in the middle of BFE to kick ass and take names?  Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Carl Weathers and Arnold Schwarzenegger, you know, men’s men?  Who did they get to replace those behemoths?

Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton and Danny Glover.

No, really.  Chet Donnelly and Roger Murtaugh are ready to open a can of whoop-ass on the Predator!  Here is a picture, straight from the film, of the guy replacing Schwarzenegger.

The Predator is hunting THIS guy as America’s greatest warrior?  He’s dressed like Kojak!

Sitting down to watch the movie, I was hoping, at the very least, to get a belly full of laughs.  And, in a way, its starts in such a manner.

The scene opens on a gunfight between cops and drug dealers.  There is some reporter from tabloid news show “Hardcore” gesticulating in a wild manner.  Mike Harrigan (Glover) comes careening out of nowhere to interrupt his flagellations and wrecks in to a van.  He opens up the trunk of his car and has at least a dozen guns in the back…..he can’t decide which one to take with him!  Then he purposefully knocks off the door of his car so he can hang his head out the side while he’s driving since the windshield is too bullet-ridden to see through.  He sneaks behind a group of a half dozen Columbians and with a “hey assholes” blasts them all with his shotgun.  Why he sneaked behind them and then alerted them with a tongue-in-cheek salutation I do not know.

After this scene ties up, Glover gets back to the police department and it’s like something out of “Naked Gun.”  There’s probably over 100 people mobbing the front desk, and as we pan to the back there are cops wrestling prostitutes and a criminal head-butting an officer to the ground.  I honestly can’t tell if this stuff is supposed to be taken seriously.

For some reason the main plot of the film revolves around a 3-way war between the cops and two opposing drug dealing factions, the Jamaican contingent and the Colombian contingent.  The first hour of the film plays more like a sequel to “Marked for Death” than “Predator.”  Truth be told, Seagal may have been a better pick for the lead than Danny Glover.

The Predator hunts down and kills key members of each cartel, saving their skulls for his trophy case.  I guess they are supposed represent some sort of “challenge” for the Predator, but he dispatches large groups

of them each time in well under a minute of screen time.  I can’t really speak for the accuracy of the style of Jamaican crime lords in the early 90s, but these guys look like Parliament/Funkadelic.

Of course the Predator eventually kills a cop or two which makes it “personal” for Harrigan.  Yet Glover simply lumbers around the set as only Glover can, wild-eyed and foul-mouthed, with no idea he is to do battle with an alien.  He still doesn’t know what he’s up against until the last 30 minutes of the film when Special Agent Peter Keyes (played by Gary Busey….only the best for Predator 2) lets him in on the secret.  There’s some cockamamie explanation as to why they want to capture the Predator instead of killing him and then an intriguing set-up where they try and capture him.  Of course the entire scene is wasted due to poor direction.

Twenty years later this movie is actually worse then I remember.  The direction is boring beyond all belief.  Most of the action scenes are compromised of people shaking guns around randomly in the most non-realistic fashion possible while the Predator dispatches them.  The action takes place mostly off-screen while the victims scream profanities.  The setting (the slums of Los Angeles) is terrible, everything is dirty and colorless and bland.  The stalking of drug dealers makes little to no sense.  Who gives a damn how many drug dealers the Predator mangles and maims?  NOBODY.

Eventually Harrigan, while chasing the Predator during the “climax” of the film, falls down an elevator shaft where there is, quite inexplicably, a hole under the elevator leading to the Predator’s ship.  I don’t know if we are supposed to believe that is how the Predator comes and goes, but I sure in the hell hope not.  There’s a showdown between Harrigan and the Predator, of course, which takes place on the ship.  It is marginally exciting, made more so by the mind-numbingly low bar set by the rest of the film.

It probably speaks volumes about the film when the most intriguing element isn’t even relevant to the plot.  When Harrigan first walks in to the ship he sees a trophy case filled with skulls collected by the Predator.  And be damned if one of them isn’t an Alien’s skull!  This had me excited way back in the early 90s, too bad the idea of Aliens Vs. Predator took 14 years to incubate, and then turned out being nearly as big a turd as Predator 2.

Written by Ryan Venson