RETRO REVIEW – ‘Predator 2’

Review by J.T. Johnson

3-12-stars

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: November 21, 1990
DIRECTOR: Stephen Hopkins
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Peter Levy
WRITERS: Jim Thomas, John Thomas
MUSIC: Alan Silvestri

It would be three years before 20th Century Fox decided to move forward with another “Predator” film. At first, the idea was that Arnold Schwarzenegger would return for a new movie. Unfortunately, Schwarzenegger’s fee was just too much and the actor had already committed to “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” by the time production was to begin on the sequel.

Therefore, the team had to look for a new lead and they found it unexpectedly in Danny Glover. In the new movie, the setting is 1997 Los Angeles and gang wars have ravaged the city. It’s hot, it’s dangerous, and it’s the perfect setting for a new Predator to find worthy warriors to hunt.

Glover plays Lieutenant Mike Harrigan, an LAPD officer who understands the war on the streets and doesn’t like to obey the orders of his superiors. Harrigan and his team are investigating two rival gangs and begin to notice that there is a new player in town taking out both teams. Soon, Harrigan and his people become the targets and he must find out what is going on and how to stop this deadly adversary.

Unlike our new cast here, we already know who the new player is. A new Predator returns and he has a whole new set of tricks and gadgets up his sleeve. This includes new projectile weapons and one mean looking spear.

The Predator in the sequel may be new in the story, but the man in the costume was not. Kevin Peter Hall reprised the role he made famous in the 1987 film. He added a balletic grace to the Predator in addition to making the creature lethal. He also gave the Predator a dangerous posture that made you know he meant business.

Sadly, this would be the last time Hall would play the Predator. Due to complications with HIV, Hall passed away five months later in 1991. Before he left us, though, he brought to life one of the greatest modern movie monsters simply called the Predator.

The movie itself is not bad, but it is definitely inferior to the first film. In the original story, it turned from an action film to an alien sci-fi film. The second film attempts to do this again, except with the police sub-genre where Schwarzenegger’s action hero Dutch is replaced with a “Dirty Harry” alternative in Harrigan.

I think another thing that hurts the movie is the change in tone. The near-future (at the time) 1997 is a darker place and since LA didn’t fall into the abyss by the time 1997 actually came around, it’s also a bit dated. Also, there are almost no people to truly care about here. In truth, Glover’s character is the only person you want to see make it out alive.

What makes the film ultimately work is the action and Glover as Harrigan. Playing a cop at this point was no challenge for Glover, considering that he was already famous for starring in the “Lethal Weapon” movies. Glover gives Harrigan a hard edge, but he cares about those under his command and is also a surprisingly worthy challenger for the Predator.

Like the first movie, the action rises as Harrigan discovers more about the predator. Eventually, this leads to an ultimate confrontation between the two characters. The climax is pretty awesome and there are a few unexpected surprises before the credits roll.

The action and the blood got amped up for the sequel. Unfortunately, bigger is not always better and I do prefer the original film over “Predator 2”. Still, you could do a lot worse and this film does contain one hell of an ending, including a connection to another famous monster from 20th Century Fox.

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