The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Monday, November 16, 2015

Predator 2

Released in 1987, the original Predator is one of the best action movies of all-time. The Magnificent Seven meets Alien, it's a gem, an almost perfect movie for what it set out to do. But wait...there's more! Sequels! I'd never sat down and watched the first sequel in one sitting, but I can check it off my list now. The first of several sequels, here's 1990's Predator 2.

It's 1997 and it's a scorching hot summer in Los Angeles. The never-ending heat wave is made that much worse by a drug war between warring factions that threatens to tear the city apart, both sides fighting for turf and not too interested in who gets caught in the crossfire. Right in the middle is an overworked, shot-up police force trying its best to keep the peace. Among those officers is Lt. Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) who with a small team of officers tries to take the fighting to the drug factions. Some weird crime scenes have been popping up though -- no spent bullets, horrific wounds on the dead, bodies skinned and hung up like trophies -- that no one can rightfully explain. What the hell's going on? Is a new hired killer tearing both sides apart that Harrigan and the police have no idea of? No, well...sorta. The enemy they're fighting is nothing of this world...

The killer of course is the Predator, a big-game killer from a far-off galaxy, a space traveler who goes from planet to planet and solar system to solar system killing for sport, for trophies, for the love of the hunt and kill. Last we saw he was somewhere in central America dispatching Arnold Schwarzenegger's team of specialists, but now he's made it to Los Angeles! Semi-spoilers I guess. There's a brief mention of the first movie but nothing heavy, and this 1990 sequel works fairly well as a stand-alone action flick. Does it help to see the first one? It certainly doesn't hurt but it is far from a deal-breaker.

I liked this sequel from director Stephen Hopkins but didn't love it. It's dumb, mindless, shoot 'em up fun and completely unnecessary other than the fact that the idea and concept behind the Predator is so freaking cool. Released in 1990, the sequel is set in the not so distant future of glorious 1997 where the only major difference seems to be some higher tech pistols and automatic weapons. The heat wave covering the city is a nice touch, giving the story a boiled over, sweaty look as everyone tries to survive the heat. That's kinda the entire movie. Gritty, in your face, violent, not too polished, fun and pretty dumb. Alan Silvestri returns to do the soundtrack, the Predator theme thankfully making a repeat performance. Not nearly as good as the first one but not bad for an unnecessary sequel. More of a guilty pleasure than a genuinely good movie.

Danny Glover is a Just Hit Play favorite, and the late 80's and early 90's are a big reason why. We're talking Lonesome Dove (my all-time favorite Glover part), the Lethal Weapon series, and a couple Disney classics called Angels in the Outfield and Operation Dumbo Drop (CLASSICS. GO SEE THEM). Here, he's in tweaked Lethal Weapon mode but hold the Mel Gibson. Glover's Harrigan is a veteran cop who plays by his own rules (yeah!) to get the job done. He's perennially pissed off and curses a blue streak the entire movie. No-nonsense, all business and sick of his streets getting shot up and littered with bodies on a daily basis. His crew includes Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso and Bill Paxton in full-on hamming it up mode. I would have liked some more scenes among the team, but some good supporting parts.

Only sorta crazy Gary Busey shows up as Keyes, a government agent who arrives on the scene and pisses everyone off immediately. Sorta, he's not telling the whole truth of why he's there, but it's Gary Busey in perpetual angry, in your face acting mode and that is ALWAYS entertaining. Also look for Robert Davi, Calvin Lockhart, Adam Baldwin, Kent McCord and Morton Downey Jr. in other supporting parts.

Probably the most appealing aspect of this 1990 sequel is the development of the Predator. SPOILER We see the Predator killed at the end of the 1987 original, but obviously he was not the only one of his kind. It's a whole breed of killers, going wherever their prey takes them. In this case, it's drug war-torn L.A. in the midst of a heat wave. The budget is somewhat limited so the special effects are okay at best, but the knowledge of a futuristic, other-worldly killer who moves among us so effortlessly to kill is a GREAT villain. Where there was Arnie in the original, there's pissed off Danny Glover in the sequel, an incredibly capable cop who always gets the job done. In other words, a more than worthy adversary for the universe's most brutally effective big game hunters. Kevin Peter Hall returns to play the Predator, a physically imposing, terrifying villain.

The action and shootouts are pretty consistent throughout, finally building up to the Predator vs. Glover's Harrigan in a drawn-out chase/fight scene that dragged on a little too much for my liking. It's still cool, leading to a finale with some cool twists about the Predator culture and most importantly, its past. So in the end, good sequel that's pretty entertaining. There have been five Predator movies, and I especially liked the attempt at a reboot in 2010 Predators. Where will it go? Who knows for sure so soak up the ones you can.

Predator 2 (1990): ** 1/2 /****

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