Stephen Hopkins, 1990
Starring: Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Ruben Blades, Kevin Peter Hall, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton
Predator has the distinction of being the first film in memory that scared the living shit out of me -- of course I was just four years old at the time, but it really cemented my love of horror, action, and, of course, Arnold. Somehow the existence of Predator 2 completely bypassed me until a few weeks ago, where I stumbled across it on Comcast on demand, of all places, and it turned out to be the highlight of my day/week/month.
Picking up vaguely where Predator left off, a predator is in the middle of a fire fight between Colombian and Jamaican gangs, who are also facing off against the Los Angeles police department. Lt Harrigan (Glover) witnesses the predator kill some Colombians, but understandably thinks he's hallucinating. He's taken to task for the absolute massacre by the Captain and is forced to meet the arrogant Agent Keyes (Busey), who is in charge of a shady task force supposedly sent to investigate the drug cartels. Harrigan's team also gets a new eccentric detective (Bill Paxton).
There's a truly awesome scene where the predator massacres a room full of Jamaicans who are preparing to torture and murder one of the Colombians. Harrigan and his team explore the bizarre scene until they are kicked out by Keyes and the task force. Unfortunately a member of Harrigan's team is killed (Blades) and he vows to find the killer and get vengeance for his friend. One of the Jamaicans, who is stereotypically a voodoo master, tells Harrigan that the killer is not human, which promptly gets him killed.
More of Harrington's team gets attacked and killed by the predator on a subway car, which drives Harrigan over the edge. Keyes stops him, finally cluing him in on the fact that he's looking for a highly advanced alien who hunts humans for fun. Taking a page out of the Alien franchise's book, Keyes' team is not there to investigate the cartels -- they want to capture and study the predator. Harrigan shows up and has a face off with the predator, using its own weapons against it. Can he defeat it? Or will it rip his skin off and hang him from the rafters?
What really blows my mind is that the film was initially given an NC-17 rating and had to be cut down. It's surprisingly gory and, honestly, surprisingly good. It's the penultimate '90s action film. It has a ridiculous plot, explosions, a sniper team, Danny Glover, Ruben Blades, Gary Busey, and Bill fucking Paxton. If you're having a bad day, watch this as a triple feature with Aliens and Terminator 2 and it will turn OK. I promise.
Critics hated Predator 2, but obviously none of them had the sense of humor or joie de vivre required to like appreciate action films. The newly designed predator looks a bit ridiculous, but he still kills with reckless abandon and that's why you wanted to watch the movie in the first place, right? You obviously need the 2-disc special edition.