Flashback: ‘Predator 2’

The ultimate hunter returned to cinema screens in 1990’s first ‘Predator’ sequel…

Predator 2 a

On the hunt: a new Predator stalks L.A. in ‘Predator 2’ (credit: 20th Century Fox).

Year:  1990

Starring:  Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton

Directed by:  Stephen Hopkins / written by:  Jim Thomas & John Thomas

What’s it about?

As gang warfare rages in the heat-soaked city of Los Angeles, LAPD cop Mike Hannigan, investigating a series of bizarre murders, discovers a new threat in the form of a lethal alien, hunting humans for sport…

Retrospective/review

With the popularity of John McTiernan’s Predator it was only a matter of time before a sequel would surface, and so it did, in 1990 with Predator 2 – directed by Stephen Hopkins.  An enjoyable, albeit inferior, follow-up to Predator, Hopkins and returning writers Jim & John Thomas help to deliver an entertaining science fiction action blockbuster.

Moving the action from the isolated jungles of Central America to the chaotic urban jungle of Los Angeles in the, then, not too distant future of 1997, Predator 2 creates the perfect environment for the creature to hunt, where the L.A. police are locked in an unrelenting conflict as they engage in street wars with Colombian gangs and Jamaican crime lords during an oppressive heatwave that not only adds to tensions but further drives the Predator’s thirst for the hunt.  It’s a decent idea that works rather well, altering the setting to keep things interesting yet retaining those key atmospheric elements at the core of Predator, the sense of comforting familiarity enhanced by the return of Alan Silvestri as composer of the film’s music score.

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Danny Glover as Lt. Mike Hannigan (credit: 20th Century Fox).

Leading the cast is Lethal Weapon star Danny Glover in an enjoyably energetic performance as no-nonsense police lieutenant Mike Hannigan who, whilst not as muscular as Arnold Schwarzenegger (looming production on Terminator 2 preventing the Austrian Oak’s participation) certainly holds his own in the action scenes of Predator 2.  Supporting Glover is Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man) and a wonderfully enthusiastic Bill Paxton (Aliens’ Private Hudson) as fellow L.A. cops Archuleta, Cantrell and Lambert, respectively as well as Kent McCord as their captain.  Gary Busey brings antagonism into the fray as the shady Peter Keyes, as Hannigan learns that the true perpetrator of a wave of gang murders is not from this world.

Although it doesn’t feel as new and exciting as Predator and is in some ways less suspenseful with its slightly less mysterious and faster paced approach (and the portrayal of the Jamaican criminals at times a little silly), there’s still a lot to enjoy about Predator 2, not in the least in its action – including a deadly subway train encounter with the Predator, the inventive slaughterhouse battle with the creature as Keys and his team attempt to capture it and the apartment building/rooftop chase which leads to a climactic finale aboard the Predator’s ship.  It’s all staged capably by director Hopkins who keeps things intense and engaging.

With some tweaks and refinements to the creature’s appearance, this Predator (once again played by Kevin Peter Hall) is subtly unique from the previous one and its expanded array of gear, including a staff and spinning disc make it more even more formidable.  Predator 2 also contains a neat little Easter egg for fans of both of 20th Century Fox’s SF creature franchises with the skull of a xenomorph displayed amongst the Predator’s trophies – leading to numerous Alien vs Predator comic books, novels, video games and a pair of not-so-great films.  Although it may not be as worthy a successor as Aliens was to Alien, Predator 2 does enough creatively to set it apart from the original film and with some solid and well-executed action sequences it provides a good measure of entertainment.

Geek fact!  Gary Busey’s son, Jake, known mainly for his role in Starship Troopers, appears in 2018 sequel The Predator as the son of Busey’s character in Predator 2.

Image(s) used herein are utilised for illustrative purposes only and remain the property of the copyright owner(s).

8 thoughts on “Flashback: ‘Predator 2’

  1. I really like Predator 2, as sequels go, its actually pretty good. The change of setting from the jungle of the original to the urban city of LA is striking, and gives us some great set pieces – especially the encounter on the subway train you mention. I also love how we see lots of different weapons used by the Predator, and the glimpse of the xenomorph skull in their spaceship. Predator 2 has its faults, but its still a very worthy sequel.

  2. Fantastic review as always, Chris. I was looking forward to this one after having revisited all the movies in the previous months. Got to admit that every movie after Predator 2 made Predator 2 seem like a masterpiece… It actually wasn’t the worse sequel possible and it actually added some lore to the franchise with the new gears and more understanding of the Predator’s purpose in life. I wonder where this franchise, and Alien, will go from now on. I hope Ridley gets to do one more non-Disney movie before any sort of reboot…

    • Me too, the rumour mill suggests Disney plan to reboot the Predator and Alien franchises so alas, Ridley Scott may not be involved with the latter, but who knows.

      Anyway, I’ve always had a fondness for Predator 2 and it fares better than a lot of 80s/90s franchise sequels (RoboCop 2 springs to mind…).

  3. Predator 2 was a worthwhile sequel that took chances and expanded its world with the tantalizing Easter egg and the insinuation that Predators have been on Earth for centuries.

    The radically different yet similar locale of L.A. showed how the Predator series could take place in many situations. The Dark Horse comics took advantage of this and rN with it. Unfortunately, it would take a while before we saw another follow up and the films that came afterwards weren’t quite as good.

    While casual viewers bemoan the lack of Schwarzenegger in Predator 2, the film is an unappreciated gem that turned the disadvantage of not having Schwarzenegger into a means of doing something different.

    • Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts, very interesting and I’m in full agreement…I’m not sure having Arnie in it would’ve necessarily made Predator 2 “better” and as you point out actually turns his absence into an advantage in certain respects. I just hope that the franchise eventually recovers from the low point of Shane Black’s sequel.

  4. A lot of people seem to dislike this movie. I guess the expectations were to high. Like you, I agree that this movie was decent even if the original was superior. The Alien skull was a cool Easter Egg. Shame no one has been able to make that crossover work in live action.

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