Why did everyone in the 80’s think 1997 was going to be the year of the apocalypse? In Escape From New York, it’s the year New York is turned into a maximum security prison, in Terminator, it’s the year of Judgment Day, and in Predator 2, it’s the year Los Angeles turns into a ‘warzone’ (as the movie constantly reminds us).
Yes, Predator 2 takes place in 1997 (which was the ‘future’ when the movie was made). Its vision of 1997 is a pessimistic one, with the city of Los Angeles being tormented by ridiculous looking gangs (like the ganja-smoking ‘Jamaicans’). It’s all very familiar stuff, and the movie doesn’t go through the trouble of properly introducing us to this alternate reality 1997. Instead, it goes right to the shitter.
That’s right, throughout the first hour of the movie, almost nothing happens in the way of a plot. The Predator kills random gang members and various expendable secondary characters, while Danny Glover stands around scratching his head and wonders that the hell is going on.
Ah, yes, Danny Glover plays Harrigan, a loose cannon cop who doesn’t play by the rules. He’s constantly badgered by his cardboard-cutout chief, who doesn’t appreciate his disregard for policies and overuse of excessive force. Does this sound familiar? Does this sound like every single cop movie from the 80’s? It should, because it is perhaps the most common cliché in movie history, and this time, it’s done with extraordinary laziness. I don’t mind this cliché if it’s done right. If the cop is an interesting character, like Dirty Harry or John Mclane, then it’s easy to get over the fact that you’ve seen the same formula a million times. But no, Danny Glover’s character is so sterile and uninteresting that I just couldn’t bring myself to care about him or the ‘plot’.
Speaking of the plot, it’s virtually nonexistent until, finally, in the last 40 minutes of the film, Gary Busey explains that the Predator is in Los Angeles because he’s attracted to War-Zone environments, and likes to kill people for sport. Now, he wants to capture the Predator for scientific study. After this is explained, the Predator kills more people and the movie finally ends. Let me just remind you that this movie is 104 minutes long.
I don’t understand why this movie gets so much love from Predator fans. The first Predator had an involving plot, fast-pacing, great characters, a lot of action, and an awesome hero to cheer for. Predator 2 lacks all of these qualities. It’s a humdrum film that I found to be extremely pedestrian and disappointing.
Here’s what Predator 2 is: a combination of Lethal Weapon and Predator, two of the greatest action movies of all time. It should’ve been phenominal, but lazy writing, flat characters and a lack of action ruined it. It’s a truly terrible movie, but it gets a three because Gary Busey is awesome, and the music is pretty cool too.