Get ready for another slog through a motion picture franchise! Since I have already reviewed the original Predator (1987), a cinematic masterpiece of the highest order (and I mean no sarcasm with that sentiment), I have been thinking that I should do the rest of the films in this series. I have seen them all, and they range from laughably bad to somewhat decent. They will never compare to the original, to be sure. Yet, that seems to have been what they were going for with the direct sequel, Predator 2 (1990). At the same time, they did it in a strange way, the main one being that they did not bring back Arnold Schwarzenegger to reprise his role from the first film. The internet says something about money, so whatever. Also, instead of the actual jungle, the second movie has the urban jungle of Los Angeles, so, again, whatever. On with the review.
If you are familiar with RoboCop (1987), you might be confused by the opening of Predator 2, the only real difference being the that the former is in a dystopian future Detroit (or just Detroit) and the latter is in dystopian future Los Angeles. The police are engaged in a pitched battle with violent gangs, and losing. This is being observed from above by, if you know what you are looking at, this film’s Predator (Kevin Peter Hall). He belongs to a race of aliens that come to Earth to hunt human beings, doing so with sophisticated gadgetry that allow them to blend completely into their surroundings and shoot plasma blasts, among other things. It is not time to get to him. The human being who comes to save the day is Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover). His guns blazing intervention, along with the rest of his squad, turns the fight and pushes the bad guys into a warehouse. However, before Lieutenant Harrigan and the rest of his mates can kick down the door and continue shooting at everything that moves, someone else does the job for them. I think you can guess who. By the time the cops enter the room, the criminals have been turned into a bloody mess and there are a lot of questions, mainly who or what could have carved up so many people so quickly. Lieutenant Harrigan wants answers, but he is told that the matter is now under Federal jurisdiction, headed by a man in an expensive suit going by Peter Keyes (Gary Busey). As are the rules of any cop movie or show, Lieutenant Harrigan and his squad are not going to take “no” for an answer. Hence, when the two rival gangs clash with one another over the massacre earlier that day, each side blaming the other for the work of the Predator, our neighborhood alien shows up and once more commits slaughter. Lieutenant Harrigan’s team arrive first, following a hunch, and are once more stonewalled by Keyes’ group. After the scene calms down, Lieutenant Harrigan’s right-hand man, Detective Danny Archuleta (Rubén Blades), returns to have another look on his own. He, too, falls victim to the Predator. If you thought Lieutenant Harrigan was made before, now he is enraged. Still, Detective Archuleta’s death is not in vain for he points the way to a weapon that is not of earthly origin. This gets Lieutenant Harrigan to begin searching in places other than where he had previously assumed it had been the work of one of the gangs. He also suspects that the Jamaican syndicate knows something about what is truly going on, and their mysterious ramblings seem to confirm this theory. Meanwhile, two other team members, Detectives Jerry Lambert (Bill Paxton) and Leona Cantrell (María Conchita Alonso), while tracking down their own leads, are attacked by the Predator on the subway. Detective Lambert dies trying to stop the alien, and Detective Cantrell would have suffered the same fate had it not been for the fact that the Predator can detect that she is pregnant. Instead, the Predator leaves to return to where Lieutenant Harrigan has figured out it is returning on a regular basis. This fact has also been discovered by Keyes and his men, and they believe they have set a trap for the alien. Unsurprisingly, it all goes sideways, and the hunters become the hunted. Lieutenant Harrigan, who has been forced to watch it all from monitors, heads into the building to attempt to take down the Predator. This is when he comes face-to-face with his foe for the first time, and he actually manages to wound the extra-terrestrial. From there, a chase ensues through the buildings of Los Angeles, down into the sewers, and eventually to the ship on which it presumably came. Once there, our determined cop is able to finish off the beast. Before he can relax after his triumph, a number of different Predators emerge from the shadows. Instead of immediately killing Lieutenant Harrigan, they take away the body, give the human a trophy from his kill, and leave. By “leave,” I mean they take off in their ship. Lieutenant Harrigan is able to get off just in time and survive the violent take-off, and we a left with a bewildered police officer wondering what had happened over the past few days.
This last bit of Predator 2 is meant to be a call back to the first when Dutch survives a nuclear blast initiated by the Predator in that film. This one’s arm is severed before that can happen, thus saving much of Los Angeles. Oddly enough, “saving” is sort of a theme in this one, and shall be my Catholic “in” for it. The Predator does not go about it in the most Christian of ways, though that should not be surprising. Kudos for the pro-life moment when it does not murder Detective Cantrell. Gee, I wonder why it did that? In any case, the Predator is not killing indiscriminately. Instead, it is going after those that it believes are a threat. That is kind of vague. Going back to the original, these creatures seem to hunt only those they believe capable of violence, a sort of warrior code, if you will. If you are toting a gun or a blade, then it interprets that person as being capable of using it. In this film specifically, it seems to focus most of its energies on the criminals in the city, though it also goes after authority figures that are pursuing it. One could make the argument that it is a vigilante form of justice. This is problematic from a Catholic point of view. Though this point has been made in other reviews, here it is a little more prominent given that everyone is pursuing the same tactics. This makes it hard to gauge who are the good guys and bad guys at times, which is also an issue. Of course, it would be silly of anyone in such a film to suggest that they turn the other cheek. This is what Jesus wants of all of us. The person that can do so is also less likely to fall victim to a Predator, of the alien variety to be clear.
Apologies for the pun, but Predator 2 does not leave much to be remembered. This particularly stands out with Detective Lambert’s character, who is meant to be the comedic relief. This film, like the last one, did not need such antics. That is why this one can only be a pale comparison to the first. It is not the worst film I have ever seen, and if you must see it in order to complete your viewing of the entire franchise, then knock yourselves out. It is just not very interesting.
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