Sunday, 8 February 2009
PREDATOR 2 (1990)
Directed by: Stephen Hopkins
Written by: Jim & John Thomas
Starring: Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Rueben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso & Bill Paxton
“The Lions. The Tigers. The Bears. Oh my.”
Highly underrated sequel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger action classic that is almost, if not as good, as the original. Danny Glover steps into Big Arnie’s shoes and fills them ably, as a harassed and destruction prone LA cop hot on the trail of a killer who is cutting up the drug gangs of LA circa 1997. That killer just happens to be the Predator who has swapped the jungles of Central America for the urban jungle of the City of Angels and sees Glover’s cop as a worthy opponent. Taunting Glover, the Predator sets about killing his crew (Blades, Alonso, Paxton) all the while dodging Busey’s sinister government people who are trying to capture him.
John McTeirnan directed the original Predator to blistering effect and Stephen Hopkins (making his first big Hollywood movie after A Nightmare on Elm Street 5) pretty much equals him and delivers a rollicking hi-tech action film. The Predator gets more screen time this go around and setting the action in the urban jungle is the logical next step forward in terms of storytelling after the South American jungles of the original. Swapping vines and trees for concrete and street gangs doesn’t diminish the tension one bit and gives the Predator a new playground to hunt in. The alien hunter also gets a bigger arsenal of weapons to hunt his prey with including a retractable spear, detachable pincers, a Frisbee blade and a wire slicing net. Glover is great as the harassed, determined-to-take-down-the-alien-invader cop, Busey does his thing and Bill Paxton is a hoot as the ladies man cop who we actually feel for when he gets it in the subway train attack.
Speaking of the subway train attack, it’s just one of numerous outstanding action set pieces that incorporate the Predator. Knocking out all the light on the subway train, the Predator fights cops and civilians all seen through muzzle flashes from guns and the lights of passing platforms. The flick also opens in grandstanding fashion with a ten minute set piece featuring cops, drug dudes and the Predator shooting and skinning seven shades of shit out of one another. Hopkins stages the action with verve and adds creative twists to each new scene (the flashing subway fight, the slaughterhouse sequence shot in ultraviolet light) and infuses the Predator attacks with tension and fright. Make no mistake, this is a violent film that pulls no punches in the action scenes and gives the viewer a visceral experience as they watch the seemingly mismatched humans take on a near indestructible alien foe.
The original Predator is a classic that stills holds up today but Predator 2 is just as worthy. Many critique it for not featuring Arnie or being set in the jungle but this sequel is no re-hash of the original and managing to squeeze out two awesome action flicks about a 7-foot, dreadlocked alien is an impressive feat. If you are at all sick of the recent glut of CGI enhanced action flicks then go back and revisit a genre classic like Predator 2 and bask in its practical effects and no holds barred, pumped up action approach. Great stuff indeed.