Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Predator 2 (1990)

I saw Predator 2 at the cinema when it came out, wasn't much impressed, and haven't watched it again since. I only own it on DVD because the cost to buy a twin pack of both films was all of $2 more than buying the first one by itself.

On a re-watch, I think my 1990/91 appraisal of the film was too harsh. It's by no means a good film, but the flaws it does have shouldn't make me overlook the good elements. These include the switch to an urban environment (something Arnie apparently disliked, and part of why he didn't sign on), and some of the hints at Predator lore, such as the idea that they deliberately choose, or are drawn to, sites of conflict.

The film posits a then-future 1997 where law and order has more or less broken down. The cops are overworked, underpaid and outgunned by the criminals they're chasing. Downtown is a war zone, with 24/7 media coverage of the ongoing bloodshed, and the mayor of LA has more or less fled the city. Frankly, it's all very RoboCop, right down to the costume design and the garbage littering the streets. Also straight out of RoboCop are the films several attempts at humour: attempts that are invariably a bad idea. The humour works in Verhoeven's film because despite the violence it contains it is first and foremost a satire. Predator 2 tries to have it both ways, being a 'serious' action movie for most of its length, but still going for laughs. The two very different tones jar badly against one another in almost every case, with only Bill Paxton actually managing to be amusing when he is supposed to be. But then, he's pretty much playing 'Hudson Mk 2', so it's a familiar role for him.

Into all this chaos comes the Predator, and it's up to Danny Glover to stop him (or at least, it is after the Predator kills a cop ... I rather like the fact that before that, Glover wants to work out what is going on, but isn't anywhere near as hell bent as finding whatever killed his squad mate).

Some of the action sequences in this are pretty good, and you get to see a very young Adam Baldwin in a supporting role, but it's definitely a mediocre movie, let down by an inconsistent idea of what it wants to be. Still, it is better than I remember it, and if you like the dystopian air of RoboCop, you might like this too.

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