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Predator 2

****
1990

‘…the yardstick by which any great sequel should be judged…’

I come not to bury Predator 2, but to praise it to the darkening skies above a war-torn LA in Stephen Hopkins’ neglected sequel. This is, IMHO, the best Predator movie, better than all the Alien films, first two aside. It’s action packed, bloody, exciting, expands the mythology and just works; I get that some will feel I’m trolling, but the truth is…I love Predator 2.

So what went so very right? With Arnie not coming back, the money that might have gone in a big-star salary was used to create a fantastic dystopian future-world for the then future of 1997. Canny use of the freshly built LA subway helps convince us that this is something more real than the usual art-director’s dream. Danny Glover, a serious actor with gravitas-up-the-wazoo, steps into the protagonist’s large shoes, and brings a weary, everyman quality that sets him apart from the usual strongman act. And the urban setting allows for ferocious gun, car and collapsing building action that’s easily the best of the franchise.

Some critics say this is a rote sequel; to them I say, did you honestly expect to see the Predator using a suburban bathroom, only to get chased out by an old lady with a broom and curlers, straight out of Tom and Jerry? Thought not. In fact, there’s lots of surprising things here, from the support (Bill Paxton from Aliens might be expected, but Grammy-winning musician Ruben Blades, 80’s stalwart Jake Busey in a spacesuit, Morten Downey Jr as a crazed tv reporter?) to the massive, carrot-shaped blunts most of the characters smoke. And just so things aren’t too much of a sausage festival, Maria Conchita Alonso kicks ass every bit as much as the guys. And the setting is a winner too, a gang-battle between Jamaican and Columbia warlords that’s explored in some detail; arguably the best single-kill here is King Willie’s demise at the hands of the super-charged Predator. Another set piece, as the Predator demolishes the gun-toting occupants of a subway car, is a miracle of flashing lights and suggestion.

This is a Joel Silver production, so expect plenty of bang for your buck. And it’s also post-Verhoeven, so expect satire around the edges as per Robocop and Total Recall. Franchise pics are ten a penny, but I’d be quite happy to see a Predator movie every year if they were as visceral and imaginative as this. With non-stop action, plus a huge man to predator love-in for the finale, Predator 2 is the yardstick by which any great sequel should be judged. Nay-sayers, please feel free to line up in the comments section; be prepared to be skinned one by one and have your corpse unceremoniously hung from the nearest building…

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  1. So, because of all the “I love P2” too comments here, I tracked down a 720p copy.

    Did we watch the same movie?

    Don’t get me wrong, the action and violence was awesomely awesome and maybe even awesomer than that, but the characters? Glover wasn’t a hunter. He came across as an arrogant asshole. I had forgotten about the whole Government side of things and I actually enjoyed that inclusion. And the drugs just made me laugh my head off! The stupidity came across as funny for that.

    But the predator was an idiot or the director was. The predator is down, with his hand cut off, practically dead and then “magically”, he’s back to fighting trim? I don’t expect much physical logic in my action movies (humans can’t be tossed around like sacks of garbage and then just get up, scale tall buildings and shoot like a sniper with a handgun (and that’s another issue)) but that was just too much. Now I want to see 1 again to see if Arnie went toe to toe with his predator, because I didn’t remember him doing that.

    I did like seeing a young Adam Baldwin. He was a favorite of mine in the tv series Chuck. And since he was featured as President of the United States in one of Larry Correia’s novellas, I’m familiar with his name and face. I just wanted to pinch his cheek here because he was so young.

    Ok, enough ramblings. This re-watch made me change my mind that it was a horrible movie to simply a brainless kill-fest. Without much cool factor.

    • Just 720p? That’s why blu-ray or HD is the way to go. Awesome than absolutely awesome is all you can ask from a film like P2, characterisation is for Dickens, although I’d argue the toss about Glover; he’s quite a refreshing change from the usual macho man. Admire you for swimming against the tide of public opinion, but I’m surfing the wave of predator adulation for now! Thanks Lorde Bokstodge!

      • My tv is only a 720. I bought it back in ’12 when Mrs B was dealing with some medical issues and couldn’t do anything more than lie on the couch. Now that she’s better, doesn’t watch tv and I only watch as background noise, I’d rather spend money on something else. Heck, even our bluray player is a $60 walmart special 😀

        Goodness, what have we unleashed with this bad naming convention? I guess we can’t put the genee back in the bottle though :-/

  2. I’m just here to agree with you, Predator 2 is truly great! I’ve actually enjoyed most Predator movies so far, perhaps except for the AVP movies, which I found abysmal. 🙁

  3. WOW!! In total agreement. I totally love Predator 2 and it’s so underrated. Love how they went from Arnie to Danny Glover…..and it works brilliantly. Never understood the hate! It’s one of the greatest sequels of all time and deserves more love

    • I’m happy to be the lightning conductor for this film, really nice to hear that other people feel the same. Now that we’ve seen how hard it is to make Alien and Predator movies, this one stands out as getting the formula right! Cheers!

  4. I gave the Predator films a miss first time out but thought I’d been too pre-judgemental so set my reservations aside for the remake/reimagining/re-whatnot which to my surprise I enjoyed so went back to see what I’d missed. Still wasn’t so taken with Pred 1 but Pred 2 stands up much better.

    • Is the correct answer. I get the love for Predator 1, but 2 is a much more rounded package and not just for star-fans…

  5. You lost me here. 😉 I praise you to set loose such wild thoughts on this sequel and get so many followers to approve with you but my last re-visit of this movie last year brought me to conclude that it was poorly-acted and poorly-told! I even got around to reading a comic book adaptation of it that almost made me want to reconsider but… nop. 😛 Maybe the next time I revisit the Predator franchise (with each movie, it basically just got worse… don’t get me started with the last one that came out not too long ago…), I’ll try to go in unbiased! 😀

    • Shane Black’s Predator was hideous, for sure. But I genuinely believe that 2 is a franchise high, and while the acting won’t trouble the Academy, who watches a Predator movie for the action? My enthusiasm for this film waned after my first viewing, but seeing the digital effects in HD made me reconsider and tips the balance in it’s favour. but I’ll confess to a bit of grandstanding; it’s nice to champion a written-off movie, and every positive comment has made me smile, even yours!

  6. Thank you for this review! I’ve NEVER understood all of the hate this movie has got over the years. I saw this on Christmas Eve the year this came out with my uncle. It’s got a simple story, a star studded cast, fantastic paced action, great performance from Danny Glover, and Bill Paxton. Looking back now, it’s truly the best of the sequels and a worthy follow up to the original. It’s also an amazing time capsule of late 80s/early 90s excess, full of hyper violence, and shopping bag size piles of cocaine!!! I have been in many arguments about this over the years, and I will defend it with my last breath!

  7. Great review! Now I wanna watch this asap! I forgot about the plot – being set in LA sounds so cool. A stark contrast to the South American jungle of the first film, which I absolutely love. I don’t believe you that 2 could be better than the first one. Haha. I can’t wait to watch 👾💢🪒🚨

  8. This post just made my day! I’m so happy to see someone who loves this movie as much as I do😀😀 I could not agree with you more: I love the Predator itself (still think it’s the coolest looking alien ever), and while I loved the first film, I think i like this one slightly more myself as well. It’s just a fun film, giving us more background for the Predator itself, and some fun characters as well. Needless to say I love this film…and this review! It’s nice to see this film finally getting some recognisition! 😀😀😀

    • Now this is how to reply to a review! Love to hear enthusiasm for a film widely rubbished at the time. Comment of the day so far, you will not be strung up by your heels! Thanks!

  9. Thought this was pretty good at the time, and still enjoyed it on my last rewatch. I wouldn’t rate it as highly as the original though. The bit about the Predator’s spear “not corresponding to anything on the periodic table” is one of my favourite pieces of pseudo-scientific movie talk.

    • Well, the subtext for me is that I’m not such a Predator fan, the jungle setting and the endless wrestling match don’t offer up as much carnage as this one…but cool, you will not be strung up; I’ll let you live out of mutual respect….

  10. Wow, I can tell you love your commenters * THIS MUCH *

    While I enjoyed the original the most, I simply sank my expectations for every single release in the franchise after and I must admit, that’s a good thing. Unlike the Terminator franchise where I’ve loved every movie even while acknowledging the badness of some of them, with Predator I haven’t been able to do that.

    This movie just left me underwhelmed. Of course, it’s probably been 10-15 years since I watched it, so….

    • I implore you to set aside your past frustrations and have a look at this in HD. It’s old school 80’s stuff, but looks better now than it did at the time…

                    • Anyway, I’m genuinely amazed that you can like all the Terminator movies. Even Rise of the Machines, Salvation and Genisys; that’s quite remarkable. How do you do it?

                    • Rise of the Machines was probably the toughest, but I genuinely enjoyed Salvation and Genisys.

                      It probably helps that I don’t watch a lot of movies and when I do, it tends to be only once, the so the “new” factor comes into play. While I’ve watched Salvation several times, along with T1 and T2, none of hte others have been re-watched and I plan on keep it that way.

                    • Obviously I’m with you on T1 and 2, but once the terminators stopped killing on sight, it turned into something else for me…

                    • I think it helped that I’d read several books and read some comics, so I was prepared for a non-auto kill Terminator. And I’m pretty much in love with the idea of the future trying to influence the past and how that all works out.

  11. I actually enjoy that movie, the Paxton character gets a little on my nerves and Glover’s character felt a bit over the top, but still the Predator in the city was a nice idea and the action is very good.

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