Predator 2 Movie Review
My string of Predator reviews continues, with this first sequel. Different settings, different characters, same hunter! Can this 90s sci-fi blockbuster convince?
Genre: Action / Horror / Sci-Fi
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Cast: Danny Glover, Rubén Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Gary Busey, Bill Paxton, Robert Davi, Adam Baldwin, Kent McCord & Kevin Peter Hall.
Run Time: 108 min.
US Release: 21 November 1990
UK Release: 03 May 1991
German Release: 30 May 1991
Welcome back to my Predator review series, leading up to the release of Shane Balck’s The Predator, later this year. With my ankle injured after a football injury, I decided to kill some time and review a few older movies that could tie into new ones. My reviews for Predator and Spider-Man are roughly three weeks back, ready to be read, up on my site. While Predator is one of my all-time favourite action sci-fi flicks, its predecessor, directed by Stephen Hopkins, was rather a huge disappointment in my eyes.
— WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —
Set in 1997 L.A. in the middle of a heat wave, a sophisticated predatory alien race returns to renew their hunting game for men. The Predator makes its way through the city of angels, leaving a path of blood and gore, which not only catches the attention of LAPD officer Mike Harrigan but also that of federal agent Peter Keyes and different gang members. As tensions run high between the law and L.A. gangs, it is up to Harrigan to face the alien in a one-to-one match, before anyone else he cares about gets hurt. In all honesty, I never watched Predator 2 until my early 20’s while starting my studies. It came on a couple of times on German TV during my teens, yet even then, I usually switched to something else, because of how bad it looked. My feelings towards this film were only confirmed, after having watched it completely. To me, this is one of the biggest sequel let-downs!
Nevertheless, I can acknowledge that the screenwriters had a couple of great ideas; moving the plot setting from a jungle to an urban metropolis, to create something different that doesn’t feel like recycling the original material. It also sets up a completely different tone to McTiernan's first claustrophobic flick, as well as adding to the mythology of the “Predator” race. During the last act, the audience obtains a glimpse inside the aliens' world, including a clue as to how long they had been visiting earth. That's about it, though, when it comes to positives.
While the overall ideas had been noble, nothing really fits together in this blender of stories. Trying to include the same bate-and-switch tactic as in the first one, Predator 2 starts off as a typical police drama of that era, tonally very similar to Colors but cranked up to eleven. However, it is missing profoundness, trying to rush its way to the horror segment of the story, thus creating a clash of styles that don’t fit together. The amount of bad cheese plus clichés included, don’t make it any better, with the final confrontation leading to a bland unsatisfactory ending.
Possibly the most irritating bit of the film is the badly written, as well as executed dialogue! Everybody is yelling aggressively around, shouting profanities. No one respects one another, with every word uttered containing a toxic amount of tension. Then there is Bill Paxton, who was basically cast as Black’s replacement, making stupid puns non-stop.
With some big names in the cast, I was surprised at how bad the acting was! Everybody seems to be wound up, overacting to the max, feeling more cartoonish than real. While the story tried to tread into new territory, a lot of the side characters felt like rehashes of the ‘87 McTiernan film.
Danny Glover gives possibly one of the worst performances I have seen from him. He tries to play the tough cop, Mike Harrigan, who goes by his own set of morals. Having prioritised his job over family, Harrigan is divorced and has nothing but the police force in his life. Glover gives an absolute over-the-top rendition of his persona's situation, going completely off the rails, once Harrigan’s partner gets killed by the alien hunter. It feels more like a parody than a serious take on the role!
Leona Cantrell, played by Maria Conchita Alonso, is the best-written human character in the whole movie! Alonso portrays her character well; a strong female Latina police officer, able to easily hold up with her macho colleagues. Sadly, Leona feels like a better, fleshed-out model of Anna. As stated before, Bill Paxton clowning around as officer Jerry Lambert looked like a sillier version of Shane Black’s Hawkins.
Garey Busey was absolutely wasted as federal agent Peter Keyes, a secondary villain to Glover’s Harrigan, who wants to catch the Predator to study it.
With Hopkins being more of a visual, than story-driven director, this sequel’s cinematography is partially an upgrade to the first picture, adding atypical camera angles and a sleek cinematic flair. However, it also contains some of the most uninspired action scenes captured on lens, as well as using some shockingly bad rapid pans. Overall, though, the camera work was good.
The effects, on the other hand, are a real mixed bag! While improvements have been made to the cloaking effects of the aliens, the electric sparks looked worse than in the first one. Yet, some of the worst green screen effects came at the end of the third act, inside the spaceship. A whole group of Predators decloaked while standing in some low fog and it is obvious that their legs have been cut out due to green-screen impressions. These are not dated effects, but cheap Hollywood computer wizardry, even for the early 90s!
Alan Silvestri returned to compose the music for this second part, adding Brazilian drums to give it more of a tribal tune. Once again, his soundtrack is vital to the build-up of tension and the best part of the whole picture.
Verdict: Stephen Hopkins-directed sequel to the 1987 original alien-action flick, contains some promising thoughts but ultimately fails in execution. While it tries to expand the legacy of the first action movie, by creating a distinctive narrative, it falls back on re-using old familiar personality traits in new characters. The urban metropolitan setting is intriguing, but it doesn’t let the story play out, mixing and switching between genres. The story itself is pretty shallow for the number of side arcs it contains, with everybody in it overacting, turning the characters into comical parodies. Worst of all is Dany Glover, who gives one of the most unappealing performances of his career. I know this is an unpopular opinion, however, I find Predator 2 to be nothing else but mediocre. It obtains a disappointing 5.0 out of 10.
Are you someone who liked Predator 2? Leave a comment, maybe you see things differently than me. Thank you for reading!