Disclaimer: There will be minor spoilers for Predator 2 in this review. If you wished to avoid them, then don’t read this review. You have been warned.
If there is any film on this retrospective I have the most nostalgia towards, it would be Predator 2. I watched this movie so many times on TV growing up. And it’s pretty easy for me to see why. The film is center on a creature not from our planet hunting down mankind for sport. It’s a simple premise that is more than enough to entertained me on multiple viewings as a kid. Now that I’m all grown up (Hopefully), were my nostalgic ties to this film warranted?
Yeah, I would say so.
Predator 2 is a pretty fun ride. One with quite some major bumps, but enjoyable nevertheless. Danny Glover is always a reliable lead and this film is no exception. He’s got charisma. Screen presence. Humor. Getting the audience involved in the action. It’s the same reasons why Arnold Schwarzenegger was so great in the first film. The supporting cast under Glover is decent enough. Each of the actors bounce off each pretty well and you could tell that had fun being involved with this project. The standouts are without a doubt are Gary Busey and Bill Paxton (Crossing over from the Alien franchise). Both solid actors who are a lot of fun onscreen.
Of course, what’s a film like this without our murderous alien hunter? The Predator is for a lack of a better word, such a cool antagonist. It’s so much fun watching him onscreen slaughtering his prey and planning his next move. Kevin Peter Hall once again does a great job visually displaying the physicality and behavior of this creature through his gestures and movement. There also some new little tidbits regarding the lore surrounding him. New gadgets and technology that paint a border picture while still retaining some mystery. There is also the big easter egg in the third act that is the catalyst for this entire retrospective.
Yeah. That one. The idea that these predators actively hunt Xenomorphs for sport is a tantalizing concept that would open the floodgates for comic books, video games, and of course, movies centered around this very premise. A small detail that would have a major impact for both of these franchises.
On the more technical aspects, the musical score by Alan Silvestri is pretty solid. Not on the same level of his adrenaline pumping work in the first film, but it gets the job done. There is a nice bit of variety in the compositions and it fits nicely in the tone of the movie. Peter Levy cinematography is also not too shabby. He does a good job getting the viewer into the action and has a good sense of framing. I really enjoyed how he uses the new reports and POV shots from the Predator to convey the setting and narrative. Stephen Hopkins direction is fine. Nothing too great, but he does do enough to generate suspense and bringing out the good stuff from the talent under him.
While going through Predator 2 provided through a nice trip down memory lane, there were some big cracks I noticed along the way that hampered this film down quite a bit for me. The screenplay from the writers of the first film, Jim Thomas, and John Thomas is disjointed. There are two major plot threads throughout the movie and the both of them don’t really have in their buildup and conclusion. The entire police investigation angle ends up becoming pointless by the third act, and while the alien hunter unit is a great idea, it’s ultimately rushed and kind of messy by the end.
It’s such a shame, because the screenplay from the original Predator was so much better. If you read my review of that movie, you would know I use the word efficient to describe how tight and focused that film was. It know what it was, and what it needed to do to achieve its intentions. Predator 2 has some really good plot ideas, but doesn’t know how to intertwined them to make for a complete, satisfying narrative. Thankfully, the film kicks into gear after an hour in with the final fight between Glover and the Predator. It’s a really fun bout that naturally escalates into a strong payoff. Both players have a good back and forth. It’s unfortunate that the same couldn’t be true for everything up prior.
Predator 2 is a solid sequel with a good lead and entertaining set-pieces. I loved the little additions to the Predator’s lore, and seeing him in action is always fun. Very strong production design, but all of that is brought down by a very disjointed screenplay. No where near as tight or focused as the first film. As it stands however, I enjoyed this nostalgic trip and would gladly take it again at some point in the future.