Predator 2

(1990) * 1/2 R
109 min. 20th Century Fox Distribution. Director: Stephen Hopkins. Cast: Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton.

/content/films/3442/1.jpgIn Predator 2, renegade cop Mike Harrigan (Glover), eighteen years on the job, has racked up a reputation for excessive violence. So has his glorified "B" movie, which—according to Hollywood lore—went through over twenty edits to talk down the MPAA from an NC-17 rating. Made by Stephen Hopkins just after the fifth Nightmare on Elm Street picture, Predator 2 is undeniably bad, but sort of a nice try. Original screenwriters Jim Thomas & John Thomas sequelize the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger hit without the participation of the star, who wisely absconded to the vastly superior sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Predator 2 takes place seven years into the filmmaker's future, in 1997 Los Angeles. During a 109° heat wave, a drug war is waged openly in the streets. The Colombians take on the "Jamaican Voodoo Posse" for the title of worst ethnic sterotype—I mean, dominant drug lords. But they didn't count on one thing: the hulking alien Predator (Kevin Peter Hall), a warrior—drawn to "heat and conflict"—who enjoys hunting the so-called "most dangerous game." After the Central American setting of the first film, the jungle-to-urban-jungle concept is a witty idea for a sequel. It's the execution that's largely witless. Hopkins succeeds in creating a profane, violent testosterone fest, but a terribly awkward one.

The plot is the essence of simple-mindedness—I mean, simplicity. With the Predator bloodily killing druglords, Harrigan is grateful but confused. Harrigan puts his team—Detectives Danny Archuleta (Ruben Blades) and Leona Cantrell (Maria Conchita Alonso), and new recruit Jerry "Lone Ranger" Lambert (Bill Paxton)—on the job of figuring out who or what the heck is slaying criminals and slinging them upside down from the rafters. Naturally, this puts the good guys (including the pregnant Leona) in the harm's way of a creature able to bend light as camouflage and armed with a wrist-mounted computer and ray gun. One man knows more than he's saying: DEA agent Peter Keyes (Gary Busey, bringing the crazy). Assisted by a dude named Garber (a young Adam Baldwin), Keyes is tracking the Predator with the intention of trapping it for study.

Plot points and characters (like Robert Davi's Captain Phil Heinemann) come and go, as Hopkins instructs everyone to overact feverishly. Alan Silvestri's exciting score helps, but the film's narrative approach is conspicuously haphazard. One droll scene finds the Predator attacking a subway train full of Bernie Goetzs at least as well armed as our LAPD heroes; it's an isolated Robocop moment in a film more interested in brute force than satire. After a slow and clumsy buildup, the flick does improve with its foregone conclusion: the half-hour-long third act is all one extended mano a mano climax pitting Harrigan against the Predator. As a guilty pleasure, one could do worse. Still, it's hard to tell whether the presence of TV tabloid "journalist" Morton Downey Jr. (remember him?) as Tony Pope, host of "Hard Core," is meant as satire or unintended irony, since Predator 2 is as sleazy as they come.

Share/bookmark: Digg Facebook Fark Furl Google Bookmarks Newsvine Reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo! My Web Permalink Permalink

Aspect ratios: 1.85:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0

Street date: 6/9/2009

Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Predator 2 gets a solid transfer in its Blu-ray debut, one that seems to accurately represent the somewhat dingy source material. The image gets solid marks all around, especially given the film's dim, murky visual scheme. Grain is minimal, and black level is solid, but the smoothness of the image also suggests a bit of detail was sacrificed to digital noise reduction. The lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix offers plenty of immersive ambience and concussive action effects that will leave the movie's fans happy.

Unlike the Blu debut of Predator, Predator 2 comes loaded up with bonus features, beginning with audio commentary by director Stephen Hopkins and audio commentary by writers Jim Thomas and John Thomas. Both tracks offer up interesting takes on what went wrong and what went right on the picture's way to the screen.

"The Hunters and the Hunted" (35:41, SD) is a fairly thorough making-of documentary collecting behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Thomas and Thomas, John Rosengrant of Stan Winston Studios, Hopkins (contemporary and vintage), Paxton (vintage), Glover (vintage), executive producer Michael Levy (vintage), stunt coordinator Gary Davis (vintage), Kevin Peter Hall (vintage), Gary Busey (vintage), Maria Conchita Alonso (vintage), Ruben Blades (vintage), Morton Downey Jr. (vintage), and Stan Winston (vintage).

In four "Evolutions" (8:24 with "Play All" option, SD) featurettes, special effects supervisor Joel Hynek narrates footage tracing the development of various sequences.

Six "Weapons of Choice" (6:49 with "Play All" option, SD) segments follow a similar pattern, with Rosengrant explaining the various weapons, illustrated in clips and stills.

"Hard Core Segments" (7:05, SD) presents two unexpurgated reels of Tony Pope's show.

The Promotional Gallery includes three "Original Theatrical Trailers" (4:02 with "Play All" option, SD); five "Original TV Spots" (2:24 with "Play All" option, SD); the 1990 EPK "The Predator Goes to Town" (3:03, SD) with Levy, Alonso, Glover, Busey, Paxton and Hopkins; the 1990 "International Making-of Featurette" (5:42, SD) with Busey, Glover, Alonso, Blades, Hopkins, and Paxton; and the 1990 special-effects-themed promo "Creating the Ultimate Hunter" (3:40, SD), which includes comments from Hopkins, Thomas and Thomas, Glover, Winston, and Downey Jr, among others.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

Share this review:
Share/bookmark: Digg Facebook Fark Furl Google Bookmarks Newsvine Reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo! My Web Permalink Permalink
Sponsored Links