Defending the Indefensible: Predator 2

In many ways, Predator 2 was the sequel no one wanted: It didn't have Arnold; it didn't have big, awesome guns; and it had the laughable Jamaican voodoo posse threat. But it deserves another look. Honest.

The trick to getting the most entertainment value out of Predator 2 is pretending that 1987's Predator didn't exist, pretending that Arnold Schwarzenegger did not lead the manliest cast since The Wild Bunch — including Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, and Bill Duke — in an explosively destructive jungle hunt for a tricksy alien hunter. Already hobbled by not being able to have Arnold's Dutch at the center of the story — Schwarzenegger shot Terminator 2: Judgment Day instead — director Stephen Hopkins and writers Jim and John Thomas made one crucial mistake: they made P2 a mystery.


Why orient a whole movie around Danny Glover's quest to learn who could possibly be killing the Columbian drug lords and Jamaican voodoo chieftains while leaving spines and skulls all over Los Angeles? We know who's doing it — we've already seen the first Predator. It's one thing, as a filmmaker, to allow the audience to be one step ahead of your main character, but it's a whole other thing for the audience to have already skipped to the end.

But let's say that you never saw Predator — you've missed out on something beautiful, but that's your own cross to bear — and so you don't know that the thing doing all the killing is an alien hunter that uses Earth as a game preserve. In that case, Predator 2 is a perfectly serviceable thriller. It's shot with muscular flair, the set pieces are strong, and Danny Glover is well-cast as a LAPD detective trying to stop an all-out gang war while tracking what looks to be a serial killer. The supporting cast is strong: Bill Paxton, Ruben Blades, Gary Busey, Maria Conchita Alonzo, and a preposterously young Adam Baldwin all do fine work. Plus, the seeding of the Alien vs. Predator crossover, via a skull found in the hunters' trophy room, was a masterstroke.


If you can overlook the inherent silliness of the "Jamaican voodoo posse" — a rather peculiar, short-lived strain of '90s movie villain (see Steven Seagal's Marked for Death) — and will yourself into ignorance of the first film, Predator 2 is worth revisiting.

Or not. Those posses were really silly.


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