'Silent, Invisible, Invincible. He's in town with a few days to kill.' Has there ever a tagline cooler than this? I'm telling you there hasn't. Long, long, long underrated Predator 2 seems to be finally getting the recognition and respect it deserves. Why all of a sudden? Because when standing next to the extremely crap AvP, it looks like pure gold to those miserable cynics who disregarded it when it first came out because Arnie was not in it. Fair enough, a Terminator, Conan or even Commando film without Arnie just wouldn't work. But the 7-foot tall, Rastafarian, otherworldly hunter is the star of this film and this time round he gets much, much more screen time. We all know what the Predator is so Stephen Hopkins shows off this ace instead of hiding it up his sleeve.
The year is 1997 and the City of Angels is boiling under a 109-degree heatwave. Columbian and Jamaican drug lords have turned the streets into a war-zone. The police are out-manned and out gunned and incompetent. The last thing they need to deal with is the Predator.
The titular hunter has returned with an increased arsenal of weapons and is keen on slicing and dicing the aforementioned druggies for fun. During a brutal gun-battle on the streets he watches Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover), a slightly-crazed renegade cop, blow away half a dozen Columbian scumbags and chooses him as his ultimate prey. Naturally, Harrigan and his ethnically diverse team of cops have enough problems without having to worry about their skulls ending up in the Pred's intergalactic trophy cabinet.
Making matters worse is faux-DEA Agent Peter Keyes (Gary Busey) who pretends to be after the druggies but is really more interested in swiping the Pred's advanced technology. Yeah, good luck with that! From start to finish Predator 2 is brash, unsubtle, in-your-face wall-to-wall action. A hectic, breathtaking succession of non-stop, increasingly exciting set-pieces. The final 45 minutes will you wetting yourself with excitement I kid you not. While Hopkins (fresh from his Nightmare on Elm Street 5 debut) has remained constantly employed he's never really become a star director, which is a shame since he has a slick, cartoonish style and is far more talented than most other anonymous directors. Like John McTiernan did in the first, he provokes a dusty, sweaty and overbearingly hot atmosphere in the daytime scenes and an alien, Gothic feel to night (pun intended). The way he captures LA on film just makes you NEVER want to go there.
Fans of Alan Silvestri's score of the first film can take comfort in the fact that all of his cool themes are back (they were rudely ditched for the awful AvP movies) and more evolved. It's probably the most engaging score he's done. His Latin drums, sinister, shrieking, Hermann-esquire strings, yawning, haunting urban sound effects and occultist voodoo chants dominate every scene and give each one its own unique voice.
But it ain't just that. Everything from set-design and cinematography to sound-design and film editing is nothing short of brilliant. If you think I'm overreacting just watch the film and see for yourself. There's nothing mass-produced or conveyor-belt about Predator 2. Twentieth Century Fox chucked loads of money at it to make it the most sophisticated sequel it could be. Everyone involved seems to have made a huge effort and done their absolute best.
It's sad that action films like this are not made anymore. Predator 2 is a classic, the kind of movie that feels torn straight from the pages of a 1950's pulp detective novel and crossed with a Twilight Zone episode. 5/5, no doubt.
This Blu Ray looks and sounds brilliant.