Monday, November 2, 2009

Predator 2

I think the original film is one of the best action movies of the 80s, but I wasn't a big fan of the series' step into the 90s. It takes place in Los Angeles in the then-future of 1997, and replaces the terminator and the jungle environment with city streets and a guy who is perpetually too old for this shit. It's from that dated style of film where gratuitous blood and violence is obviously better than the alternative and a swear word that we haven't heard in four minutes is as clever as it needs to be. The first movie had some corny bits - "stick around!" comes to mind - but it somehow felt different. The predator itself was a deadly enemy to be feared, and the guys it was hunting down were serious, dedicated men. In Predator 2, Danny Glover sneaks up behind gang members in a shootout with the cops in the middle of the street during the day and shouts "Hey, assholes" anyway so he can see the looks on their faces when he mows them down. He's surrounded by as cliched a group of cops as you can find, and this is in the middle of the period where Bill Paxton had the market on over-loud obnoxious douches absolutely cornered. The police angle did absolutely nothing for me, and unfortunately a lot of the movie hinges on it.

The predator in the first film had a goal - he was on a hunt, collecting the trophies of one of the best fighting forces on Earth. In this movie any actual goal either doesn't exist or is so unapparent as to be trivial. It just goes around killing anyone it wants to - mostly those at least brandishing weapons, yes, but there's no rhyme or reason to it. It's just pointless, going around killing while the police futilely try to track it down. Later a special team investigating the creature and trying to acquire its technology - a team surprisingly willing to divulge its secrets to any cop tenacious enough to confront them say two or three times - tries to take it down in a warehouse, and from there is a prolonged, poorly paced sequence of events where Glover follows it around as the two play cat and also-cat. The film lurches to a conclusion promising a sequel that never really came, and ties up a truly disappointing successor to a pretty darn good movie. Just like with Alien, the first half of the series is all you need to see.

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