From the Archive: Predator 2

predator 2

To help prove that I dutifully transcribe these old reviews regardless of the temptation to give the decades-old language a sprucing up, just look at the garbled syntax below. Some of these sentences gave me pangs of pain as I retyped them. Then again, those buzzes of internal agony could be attributed to memories of the many movies cited in the first paragraph slithering out from behind whatever suppression devices my brain has kindly deployed to this point. This is from the November 26, 1990 episode of The Reel Thing. We’d only be doing the show for about three months, and I was clearly already experiencing some misgivings about all the absolute dreck I was willingly viewing to help us fill out an hour a week. The opening to this review is a litany of painful regret. Also, note that the film’s placement in 1997 placed it squarely in the FUTURE! Suddenly, I feel very old.

The best part of PREDATOR 2 was being able to create a new game to play for people who have seen many of the worst films of 1990. It involves noticing how many similarities PREDATOR 2 has to all of them. For example, like ROBOCOP 2, this one is a sequel that is simply very loud. It has more excessive volume than a heavy metal fan’s stereo with a new Metallica cassette in it. Or a parallel can be drawn between the pointless violence of this film and of HARDWARE. Like GRAVEYARD SHIFT, PREDATOR 2’s final confrontation scene takes place deep underground. The alien Predator has as many escapes from death as Chucky in CHILD’S PLAY 2, the film has as much shattered glass as ANOTHER 48 HOURS, and there are as many racist depictions of Jamaicans as in MARKED FOR DEATH. There’s even a stuffed baboon in a taxidermy shop to remind us of our good friend SHAKMA. I could go on, but why bother when PREDATOR 2 is just plain awful completely on its own merits.

The setting has moved from modern day Central America in the first one to 1997 Los Angeles, where the Drug War has become a very literal term. The film begins with an all-out battle on an L.A. street as a crack police unit led by Danny Glover takes on a giant, well-armed group of drug dealers. This extreme conflict has captured the attention of one of the alien Predators who begins killing people and stringing them upside down so he can devout their heart or tear out their skull and spine if he’s in a real hurry. Glover’s group is completely mystified by these killings, but some feds arrive who know all about the creature. This group of agents in led by Gary Busey, who may have sunk to his lowest depths yet. All he can do here in stiffly deliver lines and wear a silver suit that looks like a bunch of old Ho Ho wrappers sewn together. Busey would have looked even worse if it weren’t for the performances of Bill Paxton and Maria Conchita Alonso as members of Glover’s team. Paxton’s goofiness and Alonso’s toughness become grating very quickly.

The film includes a token attempt at making a point when Glover stares into a taxidermy shop for no other reason than to show the audience that we humans do the same kinds of things as the Predator does. And if that scene didn’t make the point clear enough, Busey takes on the creature in a meat locker filled with prime beef strung up in much the same way that the Predator does it. Get it yet? PREDATOR 2 needs a lot more than a token attempt at making a serious point to make all its needless violence and general mindlessness worthwhile.

Since I started this review by telling you what I thought the best thing about PREDATOR 2 was, I’ll finish it by telling you the worst thing. Danny Glover’s final line indicates that it’s very likely that there will someday be a PREDATOR 3. That’s easily the most frightening thing in this film.

1 star, out of 4.

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Posted in Film

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