I’ve spent a good 15 years telling people that Predator 2 a poor film; a weak sequel to a classic. But I recently watched it again and I realised that if the original didn’t exist, I’d think much more highly of this one. Fortunately I realised that early on, so the rest of the viewing was spent enjoying the film for what it is, which is pleasingly different.
I’m not going to try and tell you it’s on the same level as Predator. The original oozes machismo whilst providing cinema with not only some of the best quotes of all time, but also the single best ‘group of special forces beefcakes level half a forest with automatic fire’ scene anyone has ever seen. It’s on a level that few films can touch, so Predator 2 doesn’t deserve grief for not matching it.
The funny thing is it actually tells a better story! Harrigan’s persistence in chasing down what he thinks is an assassin is a decent plot thread; it gives us a chance to see his team’s skills as they start to realise what’s going on. Then there’s Special Agent Gary Busey’s Teeth and his team of douche-bags, who think they’ve got it all figured out with their arrogance and technology. There’s the gang war that the Predator may be inadvertently helping solve. Then there’s the always fantastic Bill Paxton, who unlocks the achievement for being killed by a Terminator, Xenomorph, and a Predator.
I think we get a much younger Predator in this concrete jungle (anyone else remember a Predator book with that title?). He’s a cockier and more aggressive hunter who gets himself into some situations that I don’t think the original would have put himself in. In fact, I don’t think the ‘OG Predator’ would have been killed or lost a hand. Heat and violence are obviously desired, but I think this Predator made a series of errors. He became a lot more interesting to me when I realised that he was flawed.
Ultimately, Predator 2’s biggest problem is its predecessor. But taken on it’s own it’s a decent action/sci-fi film that deserves more credit.