Predator Week: The Bitter Guy on ‘Predator 2’ (1990)

This week on BBP we’re counting down to the release of Shane Black’s The Predator by examining the history of the franchise. Today I’m going to look at Predator 2, one of the least loved sequels in history. Come, follow me past the slow countdown to discuss this end of eighties story.

Predator 2 is very much a story of its time. Just like Predator, which took place in the war-torn central America of the Reagan era, and featured a team of American mercenaries and a CIA agent up to whatever heroics they get into in foreign lands.

In this one, a team of cops led by Danny Glover, who steps from Murtaugh to Riggs like he’s switching between two pairs of comfy shoes, is caught in the crossfire (literally, in the first scene) between two street gangs, both incredibly offensive racial stereotypes. In this film he’s playing sterotypical Irish cop Mike Harrigan.

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Actually, let’s get this out of the way: the racism in this is of the strange type that mostly got captured in early 80s DTV films. The gangs are such terrifying stereotypes that I hope at one point the Central Casting agent who got assigned this film had to take a couple opportunities to take a stiff drink.

When you look at it and think “the Colombians were portrayed better in Scarface” you are seeing some genuine ugliness there. But they got off better than the Jamaican Voodoo Posse, which is a just wrongness stacked on racism like cords of wood in a hate crime bonfire. I mean, just for starters, voodoo is not really practiced in Jamaica? It’s like the Italian Leprechaun Posse or something.

The film is set in the then dark future of 1997, where L.A. is in the midst of a combined heat- and crime-wave. This is ideal hunting ground for a Predator, as they have apparently never invented down coats and wooly mitts.

Predators would eventually get over this, at least in Alien-themed crossovers, where they’d journey to Antarctica and the pacific northwest.

The film has a recurring character in Morton Downey Jr’s Tony Pope, who’s a chorus of some kind who keeps wailing that the police aren’t doing enough and the Mayor is absent, and both of these things seem to be true, but he was just such an odious & toxic personality that I found him distracting then and he continues to be now.

The Predator wades into the conflict, leaving skinless and decapitated bodies behind.

The oddest part is Gary Busey in David Byrne’s suit and his team of Men in Black, including a young Adam Baldwin, years before he was revealed to be absolutely terrible. This squad of J. Crew MiBs have a fairly good plan to take the predator down, including keeping it from activating its self destruct panel and taking out the city. I don’t recall the wave of devastation being QUITE that big but maybe I need to rewatch Predator.

Honestly, I think that a Lethal Weapon/MiB crossover with Riggs & Murtaugh teaming up with J & K to fight a Predator would be preferable to this mess.

One item of interest is that the team is very diverse. You get Glover’s Harrigan, Maria Conchita Alonso’s Cantrell, Reuben Blades’ Danny, who get joined by Bill Paxton’s (mytijy) Lambert. Paxton (spoiler) is in a unique club, having played characters killed by a Terminator, a xenomorph, and a predator.

It’s a quirky film, and most movies of its type (proto-DTV madness) did not survive to join the DVD era. I don’t know if it’s held up, but I’m not sure if it was ever that good to begin with. I presume they were having fun, so there’s that going for it.

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