Danny Glover is an LA cop; Gary Busey is antagonising too – no, this is not Lethal Weapon… but Predator 2!
Released in 1990, but set in a slightly dystopian 1997, Predator 2 shared a handful of aspects with its predecessor, but instead transitioned to possessing an increased horror vibe under A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child director, Stephen Hopkins.
Danny Glover – halfway through his Lethal Weapon tenure – led the line as Lt. Mike Harrigan, a moustache-less cop with a fear of heights, but willingness to go against orders to get the bad guy. Lt. Harrigan and his team, Detective Archuleta (Ruben Blades) and Detective Cantrell (Maria Conchita Alonso) – later joined by Detective Lambert (Bill Paxton) – have to put a stop to the gang warfare between the Colombians and Jamaicans during an excruciating heat wave.
During a cocaine-heavy exchange, The Predator (Kevin Peter Hall) is immediately introduced and engages with a massacre of the Colombians. Subsequently killing Jamaican cartel and police too, the Predator – an unknown killer – is #1 on Lt. Harrigan’s team, though mysterious agent, Peter Keyes (Gary Busey) is of a higher authority and tries to force Lt. Harrigan from hunting down the hunter.
Stylistically, as mentioned, Predator 2 is much more of a horror film than the original Predator. Now, like all good horror sequels featuring the likes of Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers, Predator 2 is of the same notion where the killer – the Predator – has become conventional and predictable. In the instance of Predator 2, this predictability is acceptable because the visual setting is unbelievably different from Predator, and the franchise was only three years-old at the time.
Despite the heat wave within futuristic 1997, the outfits of many cops and civilians are close to belonging to the film noir era. But then alongside such classic clothing, the drug cartels and select cops do wear modern clothing. As confusing (or hilarious) as this can be, it is only a suggestion of a slightly dystopian LA.
Additionally, the depiction of voodoo within Predator 2 adds a fun layer to an already weird film. From multiple rituals to the infamous scene involving King Willie (Calvin Lockhart) and his voodoo bones, Predator 2 was not the only 1990 film to depict voodoo within an action film – take a look at Steven Seagal’s Marked for Death if you dare.
“King Willie says, not only do I have to kill you, but I have to take your soul. Voodoo magic. F*cking voodoo magic, man!”
Externally, the biggest difference between Predator and Predator 2 is that if the viewer has watched the former before the latter, then said viewer is in a great position of knowledge of majority of the characters in Predator 2, relating back to the predictability and convention factor. Positively, this can establish a series of fun or exciting expectations for viewers. However, negatively, there is no longer a great sense of mystery about the Predator, something that was tremendously special both internally and externally with the previous film. Thankfully though, an eventual sense of curiosity is established when the Predator is suggested to have been in existence for centuries.
Nowadays, Predator 2 does possess a reasonably good legacy for such an inferior sequel – a mismatch of costume and time setting alongside a fun cast, and voodoo story occurrences have helped establish this. Furthermore, the disastrous likes of Alien vs. Predator, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem and Predators (though this 2010 release has received positive insights in recent years), have unquestionably contributed to the realisation that Predator 2 is actually alright, perhaps in the same vein that both Die Hard 4.0 and A Good Day to Die Hard have suggested Die Hard 2 to not be so bad after all.
Ultimately, Predator 2 is fun for what it is, but sadly, it is not Danny Glover’s best film nor is it the best Predator film. If the upcoming The Predator is genuinely good, then one should expect Predator 2’s reputation to regress, but for now, feel free to enjoy Predator 2 as the best Predator sequel.