Despite offering up more violence, blood, killings, and a lot more gore, 1990’s “Predator 2” somehow doesn’t come close to approaching the coolness that the original “Predator” radiated from every pore of its over-the-top skin. Maybe it’s because lead Danny Glover doesn’t look up to the task, or maybe it’s because the characters, despite being just as shallow and simplistic, are not nearly as memorable as those of the original.
Danny Glover stars as Mike Harrigan, a police Detective in 1997 Los Angeles, which has been turned into a war zone. Drug gangs rule the streets, carrying more firepower than the police, and with the summer heat topping 107 degrees, a killing machine called a Predator is in the vicinity, skinning victims left and right. Still hunting for the sport of it and collecting skull and spinal columns as trophies, the Predator sets its sight on Harrigan, the luckiest cop on the force.
The first thing you’ll notice about “Predator 2” is that, despite being more expensive and more elaborate, lead Danny Glover is no Arnold Schwarzenegger. Depending on your perspective that may be a good thing or a bad thing. In the case of the “Predator” franchise, it’s a bad thing. Glover has always looked old to me, even when he was young. And seeing Harrigan perpetually skipping through his scenes, as if he’s in physical discomfort, doesn’t exactly “sell” that Harrigan is supposed to be a match for the lethal Predator.
In a movie that calls for a tough-as-nails hero, Danny Glover, well, just isn’t. This despite the fact that Glover’s Harrigan is a man of action, prone to fits of violence and rage, and a general sore on the “good name” of the L.A.P.D. In short, Glover is playing the Martin Riggs character his frequent co-star Mel Gibson played in the “Lethal Weapon” movies. Also, I could have used less of Harrigan whining like an old man throughout the movie, which is incidentally not unlike his Roger Murtaugh character from the “Lethal Weapon” movies. Do I detect a Riggs-Murtaugh hybrid happening here?
Action-wise, “Predator 2” offers more bodies and more Predator stalking sequences. Director Stephen Hopkins (“Lost in Space”) uses mostly nighttime, as well as the grungy streets and penthouse lofts of a “futuristic” Los Angeles, to frame his killings. At one point the Predator even takes on gangs in a subway car. But it has to be said that Stephen Hopkins is no John McTiernan. Hopkins’ action scenes never come close to the orchestrated chaos of McTiernan’s “Predator”, which sometimes borders on being downright balletic.
Making up maverick detective Harrigan’s crew are Maria Conchita Alonso as Leona, Ruben Blades as Danny, and perennial ’80s smartass Bill Paxton (“Aliens”) as Jerry. Taking the whole “Lethal Weapon” homage even further, Harrigan is constantly harassed for his “loose cannon” ways by a cartoonish boss, a supporting Captain, and Gary Busey (“Soldier”), who show up as a government jerk bent on capturing and (what else?) studying the technology of the Predator. He will, of course, end up dead for his “dumb” ideas.
“Predator 2” was written by Jim and John Thomas, the same people who wrote the original. With the sequel, we get to see, and learn, more of the Predator as a species. For instance, we learn that the Predators have been coming to Earth for centuries now and not just the couple of decades the original movie had led us to believe. Also, there isn’t just one Predator on Earth at any one time, there are actually dozens, all sharing the same spaceship.
Despite being one of the better characters in Slasher cinematic history, the Predator has not resurfaced since this 1990 outing. There seems to be no “Predator 3” coming out anytime soon, which is a shame considering that the Predator species is more deserving of further exploration than the already stale aliens of “Alien” or any of the sea of masked killers out there.
With summer on the horizon, a good Predator would be most welcome.
Stephen Hopkins (director) / Jim Thomas, John Thomas (screenplay)
CAST: Kevin Peter Hall …. The Predator
Danny Glover …. Lieutenant Mike Harrigan
Gary Busey …. Peter Keyes
Rub’n Blades …. Danny
Maria Conchita Alonso …. Leona
Bill Paxton …. Jerry Lambert