Flashback: ‘Predator 2’

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

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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…


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).

It’s a Classic: ‘Predator’

Looking at some of the best pop culture offerings in film, TV and comics…

“If it bleeds, we can kill it”

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A deadly foe – the technologically advanced and lethal hunter of ‘Predator’ (image credit: 20th Century Fox).

Year:  1987 

Starring:  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves, R.G. Armstrong, Shane Black, Kevin Peter Hall

Directed by:  John McTiernan / written by:  Jim Thomas & John Thomas

What’s it about?

An elite special forces unit find themselves being hunted by a deadly creature in the jungles of Central America…

In review:  why it’s a classic

An adrenaline induced and suspenseful science fiction actioner, Predator is the first – and indisputably best – entry in what would become 20th Century Fox’s other iconic SF creature franchise.  With a cast lead by action megastar Arnold Schwarzenegger and directed by John McTiernan (who would helm another classic the following year – Die Hard), Predator is highly entertaining.

The set-up is simple: a crack military team are sent into the guerrilla-infested jungles of Central America on a mission to rescue the crew of a downed helicopter.  Discovering the skinned bodies of their comrades, the team soon find themselves in a fight for survival as an alien creature, which collects the skulls of its victims as trophies, begins hunting them down.  The execution is superb, writers Jim & John Thomas, together with the cast, provide a troupe of tough but likeable characters:  team leader ‘Dutch’ is played assuredly by Schwarzenegger (quickly reaching the height of his superstardom at this point), ably supported by Carl Weathers as Dillon, a former colleague turned-CIA man with the roster filled out by Bill Duke as ‘Mac’, Jesse Ventura as Blaine, the late Sonny Landham as Billy, Richard Chaves as Poncho and Shane Black – future writer and director of 2018’s The Predator (and who also provided uncredited contributions to the script for Predator) stars as Hawkins.  Caught up in the terror is Elpidia Carrillo as Anna, a captured guerrilla who joins Dutch and his unit as they attempt to reach extraction.

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Action megastar Arnold Schwarzenegger leads the cast of ‘Predator’ as ‘Dutch’ (image credit: 20th Century Fox).

John McTiernan directs with confidence and skill, delivering scintillating and satisfying action.  Yet it’s the slowly unwinding element of suspense that makes Predator so engrossing, like Ridley Scott’s Alien, time is taken for events to unfold creating an increasing sense of unease.  The unrelenting heat of the jungle coupled with the conflict fermented by the interference of Weathers’ Dillon adds further to the tension.

Of course, Predator is nothing without its central threat and the Predator itself – created by the legendary Stan Winston and his studio (saving the production after a failed, laughably bad and unconvincing prototype was abandoned) – is as unique and memorable as the Xenomorphs of Alien and Aliens, remaining incredibly formidable and one of the greatest and most iconic creature designs in the history of film.  Just as Predator unfolds at a steady pace, the appearance of the lethal 7 foot-plus and muscular extra-terrestrial (played by Kevin Peter Hall), masked and equipped with an invisibility cloak, shoulder laser, razor sharp gauntlet blades and heat vision sensor is slowly revealed – the final unmasking saved until its climactic one on one showdown with Dutch in an exciting and rewarding finale.

Alan Silvestri’s thrumming, atmospheric and intense music score proves the perfect accompaniment to a true genre classic that would spawn numerous sequels, comic books, novels, video games and slews of merchandise that add up to a pop culture phenomenon.

Standout moment

After storming the guerrilla camp, Dutch and his team prepare to depart and head for extraction.  As Hawkins shares a joke with Billy, unbeknown to them someone, or something is observing…

Geek fact!

Martial arts star Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally brought in to play the Predator and participated in test-shoots before the initial creature design was abandoned.

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Alien : 20th Century Fox’s original lethal extra-terrestrial makes its debut in Ridley Scott’s equally suspenseful masterpiece.

The Terminator : Arnold Schwarzenegger plays another kind of hunter as the deadly time travelling cyborg in James Cameron’s landmark science fiction thriller.

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

GBUK Film Classics: ‘Die Hard’

Looking at some all-time favourites…


“I got invited to the Christmas party by mistake…who knew?”

Year:  1988

Starring:  Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, William Atherton, Reginald Veljohnson

Director:  John McTernian / Written by:  Jeb Stewart and Steven E. de Souza (based on the novel “Nothing Lasts Forever” by Roderick Thorp)

What’s it about?

Visiting his estranged wife at the Nakatomi Corporation’s Christmas party, New York cop John McClane soon finds he is the only hope when terrorists seize the near vacant Nakatomi Plaza…

In review

Launching both the career of one of Hollywood’s biggest stars and a successful film franchise, Die Hard sits comfortably at the top of many an action film fan’s favourites list.

Virtually unknown beyond a starring role in the television series Moonlighting, Bruce Willis truly made his mark here providing audiences with a memorable, likeable and relatable ‘hero’ who is just an average guy thrown unwittingly into extraordinary circumstances.  Willis makes great use of a script that is infused with dry wit and iconic one-liners as he trades verbal blows with Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber, an astute terrorist-turned thief who finds himself infuriated by McClane’s relentless ‘interference’.  If Willis gave audiences a memorable screen hero, then Rickman provided a superior breed of villain, setting a new standard for the casting of such roles.

Willis is joined by an eclectic supporting cast – including Bonnie Bedelia as McClane’s estranged wife, Holly and Reginald Veljohnson as his Twinkie loving morale support, Sgt. Al Powell.  He also gets to trade punches with Gruber’s right hand man, Karl played by the late Alexander Godunov.  Amongst all of the peril there’s some neatly placed moments of levity from limo driver Argyle (De’voreaux White), Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson (Paul Gleeson), Nakatomi Exec Harry Ellis (Hart Bochner) and News Reporter Richard Thornburg (William Atherton).

Beyond casting, Die Hard continues to stand as one of the biggest and most thrilling action films of all time.  Over twenty five years on, the extensive practical effects and pyrotechnics (not to mention some daring stunts) are still impressive and a testament to the achievements and creativity of this brand of ‘old school’ style of filmmaking.  It’s also worth highlighting that Die Hard could not have succeeded without the use of studio 20th Century Fox’s Fox Plaza building which doubles as Nakatomi Plaza – itself one of the film’s stars and integral to the whole of the film’s production.

What makes Die Hard so appealing is its successful (and seamless) combination of numerous crowd-pleasing elements: the performances of its cast, most significantly Willis and Rickman, a script that is both dramatic and funny and the thrilling and literally explosive action expertly executed by director John McTiernan – who would go on to direct 1995’s Die Hard with a Vengeance.

Whilst Die Hard is assuredly a defining moment in action cinema, it’s also essential Christmas viewing – beyond events taking place on Christmas Eve, the heart of the story focuses on McClane’s desire to reunite with his wife and children at such a special time of year, as he contemplates regrets at allowing their marriage to fall apart.  This paves the way for a satisfying conclusion, aptly complemented by yuletide favourite “Let it Snow!” which plays out as the closing credits roll.

Standout moment

After Hans Gruber’s men thwart the attempts of an armed response team to storm Nakatomi Plaza, McClane decides it’s time to give Gruber his C4 explosives back – but not in the way he might be expecting…

Three reasons it’s a classic…

  1. It’s by far Bruce Willis’s finest hour (well, two hours and eleven minutes).
  1. It set a new benchmark for quality action thrillers, which still sets standards today.
  1. It’s entertaining not just for its impressive action set-pieces but for a script that balances dramatic beats with well-placed moments of levity and dry wit.

Did you know?

The majority of the film’s scenes take place at night as Willis was committed to shooting on television series Moonlighting during the day.

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Die Hard 2 : the first (and arguably best) of the Die Hard sequels sees the action shift from the heights of Nakatomi Plaza to the snow covered landscape of Dulles International Airport, with another likeably witty performance from Willis who this time is trading quips with William Sadler’s corrupt Army man, Colonel Stewart.  Director Renny Harlin successfully delivers the expected adrenalin fuelled thrills of this superior action blockbuster.

Under Siege : once cited as Die Hard on a battleship, to simply right off this accomplished Steven Segal action flick as such would do it a disservice.  With strong production values, exciting action set-pieces and delightful villainy from Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey, it’s Die Hard’s lost cousin.

Bruce Willis make his debut as one of action cinema's most iconic characters - John McClane in 'Die Hard'.

Bruce Willis makes his debut as one of action cinema’s most iconic characters – John McClane in ‘Die Hard’.