Review: Predator 2

predator2_cov.jpgYear: 1990
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Starring: Danny Glover, Kevin Peter Hall, Gary Busey, Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 53

Policemen hunt a Predator at large in Los Angeles

Quick Review

Predator 2 manages to use the leverage of its compelling villain to just barely overcome the film’s awful acting, atrocious script, and mediocre construction.

Full Review

The original Predator film—cheesy acting and all—worked well as an action film because of its excellent development, mysterious villain, and solid action. Predator 2 takes the action to a tough, urban Los Angeles and tries to cash in on the same vibe, but in many ways this film falls short of the original movie.

predator2_2.jpgThree of the most glaring problems with Predator 2 are its bland script, its robotic acting, and its terribly generic characters. The script is so predictable that on several occasions I was able to say the actor’s line before he said it. The original Predator film certainly had all of these elements, but Predator 2 takes everything to a new dimension. The federal agents deserve particular mention. They all act like Schwarzenegger clones, delivering predictable generic lines with the emotional force of digital text readers. Bill Paxton, as policeman Jerry Lambert, goes in the opposite direction: his lines are exaggerated to the point of caricature, and it throws a goofy incongruous character into an otherwise bloody and gritty film. In between we’ve got Danny Glover, who plays the hero role as policeman Mike Harrigan. Glover is at times effective, but seems to spend an inordinate amount of time whispering to himself, almost as if he could slip through the movie unnoticed by the audience. With the exception of a couple of gang members who manage to add some spice to the roles, everyone else mumbles, bumbles, and hacks their way through the painful dialog.
Fortunately, the action and pacing in Predator 2 aren’t as disastrous. The film starts off fast, with a violent shootout between the police and a Los Angeles gang. Although the action occasionally stops to reconstruct the simple plot, it mainly rockets along for 105 minutes of bloody, R-rated shootouts and fights. While some of this action is reasonably entertaining, quite a bit of it suffers from poor editing and bad lighting. The result is that often the action is often tricky to follow. In the director’s defense, I understand that they were probably trying to use darkness and speed to create the frantic nature of fighting against a blindingly fast Predator, but they miss the mark here. A shootout on a dark train stands out as a perfect example: the viewer knows what is happening, but it’s an ineffective jumble of flashes in the dark. It’s a shame the action slips up in this way, because the effective visual effects on the Predator—mildly disappointing in that they predator2_1.jpgare essentially the same as those of the original movie—make for some solid scenes when employed appropriately. I also feel compelled to mention the simply amazing lack of creativity that the creators of Predator 2 display. They manage to stuff the film with every generic type of action element you’ve seen 100 times before, even the fake death trick.

On a more positive note, the film does a respectable job of staying within itself. There are a few scenes where the Predator seems to show up in dubious places, but on the whole the story rolls along nicely, with little breakdown. The predictable ending is nevertheless a satisfying conclusion to the story.

By far the film’s strongest point is the return of the Predator. In terms of villains, the Predator ranks up with some of action movies’ best, and Predator 2 does a great job of portraying the beast. The creature is powerful, cunning, and resourceful. Kudos to the film for doing such a sharp job here.

In terms of Babes and Hunks, Predator 2 scores well below average. There are almost no attractive women in the film, although you do get brief cameos by random unknown buxom women along the way. As for Hunks, Danny Glover, Bill Paxton, and some dreadlocked gangsters earn the film a few points.

All in all, Predator 2 manages to use the leverage of its compelling villain to just barely overcome the film’s awful acting, atrocious script, and mediocre construction.

Fun Fact
As bloody as Predator 2 currently is, much of the violence and gore were toned down in a series of cuts.

Related Reviews
Predator, Alien vs. Predator

Pace: 72
Plot: 57
Action: 60
Consistent Premise: 50
Script/Quotes: 8
Characters: 40
Acting: 16
Villain: 83
Body Count: 63
Time to First Dead Body: 1 minute, 24 seconds.
Babes: 3
Hunks: 39
Explosions: 36
Special Effects: 36
Stunts: 48
Ending: 55

Overall: 53 (Better than expected)

[tags]Predator 2, Danny Glover, Stephen Hopkins, Kevin Peter Hall, Gary Busey, Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton, action movie, movie review[/tags]

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2 thoughts on “Review: Predator 2

  1. I managed to see this on TV the other night, but I really wish I hadn’t bothered.

    The acting is dreadful (Danny Glover seems to be on something!) and the whole evil boss thing (Gary Busey doing his usual sterling work) doesn’t work at all.

    Pity, as the Predator in a city idea could have actually worked.

  2. I agree completely. In looking back on this review, I’m surprised I gave it a 53. I think my expectations were so low that it notched the score up a bit.

    It had some decent moments, but I think it’s the weakest of the Predator movies to date.

    I haven’t seen the newly released film yet, though.

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