Guilty Pleasures: “Predator 2”

September 13, 2012

I don’t understand why Predator 2 doesn’t get more respect. Okay, well, no, I do. Still, when you look at further Predator forays onto the big screen, you can’t tell me this isn’t second only to the original. Sure, you can argue that Predators is better, but I’ve already taken that movie down, besides, that movie was just a Schwarzenegger-less rehash of the original. Predator 2 is, if nothing else, an imaginative rehash of the original, transplanting the titular monster into a near-future urban hellscape and letting it wreck havoc there. Plus, there is a lot more to like. Such as:

* Danny Glover is batshit crazy: Let’s get this out of the way upfront: whoever thought he was an acceptable replacement for Arnie in the role of “Dude-who-punches-a-tusked-alien-in-the-face” was on crack. Or maybe a lot of acid. What drug makes you make terrible casting decisions, anyone know? Leave a comment below if you do. Anyway, yeah, Glover’s casting is terrible, especially since just a two summers earlier he was bitching about being too old to chase along with Mel Gibson shooting people, and he didn’t even have to deal with any aliens in Lethal Weapon 2 (unless you count Mel, which is fair). So what’s to like about him? His character of Lieutenant Mike Harrigan, leader of an anti-gang/anti-drug unit (which seemingly never arrests gang members or drug dealers), is a complete lunatic. Now, almost every action film has a hero who’s a rogue cop/loose cannon, but Predator 2 is the only one that features a cop—the main character, mind you—who, on evidence, shouldn’t be carrying a badge, gun, or be allowed outside without a Thorazine IV drip. He screams at his superiors every chance he gets, thinks nothing of hauling out his gun in a cemetery, wields a totally-impractical .357 Magnum Desert Eagle, and, early on in the film, has to be forcibly prevented from attacking the Deputy Police Chief. Is that enough? No? Then try his personnel file, which we see briefly on a computer screen:  “Violence prone, obsessive/compulsive personality, history of excessive force incidents, Aggression level: 40% above normal.” Holy shit! And this guy made lieutenant? He makes Stacy Koon look like Barney Fife.

Danny’s probably asking for change for the parking meter or something.

* Bill Paxton:  Billy P. is like acting A1 sauce—he just makes everything better. Well, almost everything—I’m not sold on Big Love. But almost everything, and Predator 2 is no exception. His Detective Jerry Lambert is a livewire wiseass who should be supremely annoying, yet isn’t. He swaggers, struts, and—holy crap—prances through his scenes, snapping gum and running his mouth non-stop, like he’s railed to the gills on coke. Maybe he is. But he also gets the job done, and deflates the self-seriousness of fellow actors Glover, Maria Conchita Alonso, and Reuben Blades—none of whom is remotely believable as warrior cops in 1997 L.A.

* Heat:  No, not the movie—man, that was a good a movie, huh? I kinda wish I was watching that right now. And hey, would it have been better with the inclusion of a Predator? Sadly, we’ll never know. But, no, I’m referring to the actual heat of summer in L.A. The movie makes this vividly, grimily real by showing everyone as sweaty and uncomfortable and not even bothering to hide their voluminous sweat stains. Hell, Paxton has completely pitted out his freakin’ suit coat in the first scene. Jesus, you can practically smell him off the screen (I detect a heady mixture of B.O. and Hai Karate). Plus, everything is blasted with harsh orange ambient light. Few movies do such a good job of setting the (really, really gross) scene.

“So, it’s about 110 degrees outside. We should wear coats anyway.”

* The ultra-violent future (that never came): Yeah, in 1990, as we reached the apex of the drug wars that would savage most big cities, the then-future year of 1997 sure did seem like it would be a time when drug gangs would rip through SWAT teams with heavy machine guns and rocket-launchers. Sure, why not? It was easy to believe that seven years in the future, a major metropolis like L.A. would be such an urban war zone that it’d make ‘70s New York City look like Muncie, Indiana. Of course, by 1997 new policing methods, brutal sentences for drug-related crimes, and shifting demographics would send violent crime rates in most big cities into a freefall, but where’s the fun in that? Hey, ‘70s New York—that’d be a great setting for a Predator movie. I’m gonna get started on my fanfic right now. I think I’ll throw in Travis Bickle as the protagonist.

“I can see my house from here…”

* The action: Hey, the Predator fights are pretty awesome. We get a great fight/chase through a series of apartment buildings (yeah, it’d be better with anyone other than Danny Glover), a darkened warehouse filled with dust, and, um…some other stuff. It looks great and was pretty imaginatively shot. Director Stephen Hopkins had real talent. Pity his career never came to more.

* New weapons:  Okay, what is cooler, the Frisbee Of Death this alien pitches, or that dumbass RC plane tracker-thingee they had in Predators? Easy one, right? But this Predator also has a spear and a net in addition to the ol’ reliable shoulder-cannon. Cool toys are always welcome.

I just can’t fight this feeling anymore

* Gary Busey: If Bill Paxton is like movie-A1 sauce, then Busey is…uh…I don’t have a food-related metaphor. The Quaaludes you sprinkle in your Cheerios, maybe? I dunno, but whatever he is, he’s always fun.  The best part is speculating whether  he’s acting or whether he actually thinks he’s fighting an alien hunter. With Busey it could go either way.

* This:

* The teaser:The end of film puts Harrigan in the alien craft, which hold trophies of the Predator’s earlier hunts including a freaking alien skull!!! Awesome! Aliens fighting Predators! I can’t wait to see that movie! Oh…wait…damn it.

So, that’s Predator 2. Give it a chance.

One comment

  1. Totally agreed. Of all the movies I’d consider underrated, Predator 2 is at the absolute top of the list.

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