Hey all. It’s been awhile since I opened this topic and I’ve been a bit negligent. But that’s what happens when you get on a tangent with me. You go far and wide and somehow, maybe, you accidentally find your way back to the point… what was I saying?
Oh, yeah! So getting back to the Predator universe, we left off last time with a recap of the first movie and what it was all about. Today, I’d like to tackle its sequel and the basis for the eventual crossover between the Predator and Alien franchises. In short, today it’s Predator 2!
The movie opens on a thermal image of a new jungle, the concrete jungle of LA to be specific. It is the not-too-distant future of 1997, where terrible summer heat and an escalating turf war between the Colombian and Jamaican cartels are threatening to tear the city apart.
Cut to a gun fight in progress, where police have cordoned off a Scorpion (Colombian cartel) compound and are taking casualties. Luckily, Lt. Mike Harringan (Danny Glover) arrives on scene and begins to coordinate things with his partners, Danny (Rubén Blades) and Leona (Maria Conchita Alonso). After some daring driving moves, he ensures that some wounded officers are finally able to get the help they need. Then he blows five Scorpion thugs away single-handedly!
However, the other five members of the gang manage to get into their hideout in the midst of the confusion and begin strapping on some heavy artillery. After grabbing all they can and coking up, something happens… the skylight above them breaks, glass rains down on their heads, and something wicked their way comes…
The police raid the building to find all but one man eviscerated. Harrington pursues the remaining one to the roof where he corners the last man, who loses it when he sees an apparition and begins shooting. Harrington shoots him down, sees the same apparition, and reasons that the heat is causing him to lose his mind.
They are in complete confusion about what happened inside the building though. The sliced bodies and the fact that one is hanging naked upside down from the ceiling just don’t seem to add up. Unfortunately, their investigation ends when the Commissioner shows up and tells them some special team is looking over it and to pull back. They naturally fight and exchange the usual, “you’re insubordinate”, “you’re a pencil-pusher” talk, and things move on…
Back at the station, we get some comic relief as the new guy, Det. Lambert (played by Bill Paxton), shows up and cracks wise and Harrington gives him the pep talk about sticking together. He then gets called into the Captains office where he’s given the usual talk about how they’re in a war and how they have to cooperate with the some federal task force that is coming in. Their boss introduces himself, who goes by the name of Special Agent Peter Keyes (played by Gary Busey).
And of course, its not long before the mystery man strikes again. This time, its at the Scorpion boss’ lair where an attack squad of Jamaicans breaks in and begins sacrificing him Voodoo style. As soon as the knife in his heart, they begin to drop when an apparition begins moving through them and taking them out one by one. The police show up, and of course are ordered to hang back and let the feds deal with it. Harrington naturally disobeys…
They break in to find the place covered in blood and broken glass, and a naked Colombian woman who keeps saying “the devil came for them”. Shortly thereafter, Keyes and the feds show up and tell Harrington to get lost. They take over the scene and ferry the woman away without incident. Harrington has Lambert tail them, but they lose him in the meat packing district.
Meanwhile, Harrington tells Danny to hang back and wait for the feds to leave the scene. But Danny has plans of his own, which include retrieving the strange blade he saw stuck in the wall from earlier. Having grown tired of waiting, Danny goes in ahead, and is caught when the Predator reveals himself. Seems he had the same idea, returning to the scene to retrieve his lost weapon. Danny dies…
His autopsy revealed the COD was a blade inserted directly into his heart. The coroner also does a test on the retrieved blade and reveals that it is composed of a completely unknown metal. And last, but not least, they notice that it is covered in cattle blood and steroids, indicating that its owner was recently in a slaughter house. Interesting…
Meanwhile, Harrington decides its time to reach out to the enemy of his enemy. He meets with Jamaican kingpin King Willy to discuss their mutual problem. However, King Willy proves to be of little help since he thinks their enemy comes to them from the spirit world to wreak death on them. Harrington leaves, and the Predator arrives to confront Willy. He falls quickly, and the Predator carries his disembodied head back to his lair to polish the skull and mount it on its wall.
The third attack comes on a subway when Lambert and Leona get caught up in an attempted robbery. The lights go out on the tram and the Predator enters, taking down everyone who was armed but leaving the civvies alone. Lambert tells Leona to lead the passengers to safety while he covers them, and he soon falls…
Leona returns to the cart as soon as the civvies are away and is attacked herself. However, the Predator leaves her be as soon as he realizes she is pregnant. Harrington arrives on the scene and begins to notice a pattern. He runs from the train and pursues the mystery man, a chase which takes him all the way to the meat packing district.
Harrington loses his quarry when his car is sideswiped by a truck. His semi-unconscious body is dragged into a portable command center where Keyes and his people are waiting. Finally, Harrington is given the answers he desires. It seems Keyes was talking literally when he said “You don’t know what you’re dealing with!”
A precis follows, where they explain how they’ve been tracking the alien ever since he showed up. It seems the first encounter in Central America (involving Arny and his commandos) prompted a great deal of interest from the feds. And thanks to Arny’s debreifing, they learned a lot from that encounter and have been waiting for another one ever since.
Ever since they realized that he comes to the slaughterhouse to feed between hunts, they’ve been lying in wait. Tonight is the night they close in! Naturally, they have a plan to capture it, involving insulated suits, UV lights, and liquid nitrogen guns. By blocking out their heat, they will be invisible to the Predator’s IR vision and able to freeze him intact.
However, the plan goes horribly wrong when the Predator realizes he’s being stalked and begins cycling through different vision modes. Selecting UV mode, he zeroes in on their lights and begins to kill them with ease. Harrington escapes from the unit, grabs some heavy artillery from his trunk, and proceeds inside. After an intense firefight, Harrington manages to corner it and knocks it flat with several blasts from his shotgun.
He begins inspecting the body, and delivers the first half of the signature line. “You’re one ugly mother – ” However, the Predator wakes up and finishes it for him. They continue to fight, Keyes jumps in the middle (seems he survived the initial attack) and then is sliced in half by the Predator’s throwing disc. It then begins beating a retreat, and Harrington follows.
After a confrontation on the roof, Harrington and the Predator end up hanging over the edge of the building. The Predator decides he’s facing capture and sets his self-destruct sequence. Harrington narrowly grabs his disc and cuts the Predator’s arm off, terminating the sequence. The Predator falls and begins retreating again with Harrington in pursuit.
This chase eventually leads Harrington into the underground space beneath an apartment block. He falls into darkness, and lands on what is clearly their mothership. Proceeding inside, he sees the Predator’s trophy case, resplendent with different skulls. He’s almost killed when the Predator surprise attacks him, but manages to defend himself long enough to deliver the death blow with the Predator’s own disc.
Standing over the dead body, he is somewhat startled when another targeting laser appears on his face. Many, many Predators emerge from the mist to uncloak and carry their dead friend away. The lead Predator tosses him a musket from 1750 and says “take it”. Must be the prize… The ship begins its take off sequence, and Harrington jumps off the back just in time to be caked in dust. He walks outside, following a burning trail, where Keyes second (played by Adam Baldwin) tells him they “were so close!”. Toting his musket, he smugly proclaims “You’ll get another chance…”
Relative to the first movie, this one garnered a rather mixed reception. Critics generally liked Danny Glover’s portrayal of a bewildered inner-city cop, and approved of him as the choice for the hero. While the role retained a hell of a lot of elements from his recurring character from Lethal Weapon, he brought just enough anger and borderline crazy behavior to the role to distinguish them and make it work. However, critics were divided over the plot and whether it was a cliche-riddled mess or a fun addition to the franchise.
Personally, I find this movie to be a nostalgic guilty pleasure, even more so than the first. As such, it’s hard for me to point out what wasn’t so good about it. But even I am willing to admit that the cliches ran deep, and that the story was full of some rather implausible twists. For example, why did Danny Glover chase the Predator all the way back to its ship? Why not call in some back up after the encounter at the slaughterhouse?
What’s more, this necessitated that they find a way to make it possible for an aging cop to beat a seven foot killing machine. Remember how the last one beat the crap out of Arny in the first one, and only managed to win by catching it in a trap? Yet this time around, Glover manages to kill one in single combat through sheer luck and determination. And it really wasn’t believable, in fact it felt totally contrived.
Aside from that, I actually liked this movie. For one, they managed to develop the whole aspect of the Predator and it’s methods. As with the first movie, the Predator began by familiarizing itself with the field of engagement, scoping out its targets, and then eliminating them one by one. It was only at the end that he chose to go up against the top carnivore in single combat.
What’s more, the scene where they showed the Predator’s trophy case was also inspired, and provided the impetus for the later crossover with Alien. By displaying such a diverse array of skulls, which included the xenomorph, the Predator was at last established as a truly interstellar hunter.
And last, the setting of the story was actually quite fitting. Whereas the first fight took place in a literal jungle, this time around, they chose a metaphorical jungle of concrete and steel. And the near-future prediction of an LA torn apart by gang violence was quite accurate from a 1990 perspective, and I felt they pulled it off quite well. Even the terrible summer heat was a fitting metaphor for the mounting violence and chaos.
Well that’s about it for the Predator movies. To this day, I wonder why they didn’t make a third, but the fact that this particular movie didn’t do so well might be a possible answer. From here on out, the franchise would become married to Alien and in the form of AVP, which consisted entirely of comics, novelizations and video games until the studios decided it was time for a full-length film.
And frankly, the less said about those movies the better! I mean really, why the hell would you an AVP movie and set it in the modern world? The whole premise of AVP was that it took place in the future when humanity had all those cool gadgets, like Smartguns, Pulse Rifles and Drop Ships. Otherwise, humanity didn’t stand a chance against both acid-blooded xenomorphs and plasma-casting invisible Hunters! And the whole Ancient Astronomers concept of how the Hunters built all the temples on Earth, that was just plain insulting…
Ah well, at least the video games were cool. And I will be dealing with those soon enough. Stay tuned, the Predator franchise has not yet begun to be reviewed!
Entertainment Value: 7/10