Rated R for all the gore and nudity that one can handle. It was the early '90s and it was a clearly-R rated action movie. There were going to be no holds barred with a film like this. But the real issue is that this movie really plays up racial stereotypes and xenophobic attitudes. This was a time period that prided itself on being politically incorrect as a means to be counter culture or something like that. I will probably be going into this in more detail, but there's a bunch of nudity, sex, violence, gore, and ugly stereotypes throughout this film. R.
DIRECTOR: Stephen Hopkins
Okay, it's super early because the baby decided that she wanted to be up before the sun. The other kids are asleep and I want to see if I can knock out my blog before I get interrupted a million times. But if you have ever met a baby, there's a very good chance that I won't get too much time to write this before I get incoherent annoyance. Predator 2 has been a weird reference point for me. I have seen every other Predator movie with the exception of Predator 2. The thing is...I reference it a lot as what a movie shouldn't do.
The first Predator movie was kind of brilliant in its own simplicity. It was almost action for its own purposes. Yeah, that's a really a stupid thing when I write it down. But the movie was almost the purest form of celebration of action sci-fi horror. We knew nothing about the titular antagonist except that he was invisible and that he killed anything that posed a threat, even its most basic form. It didn't try explaining what the Predator was. It just had it hunt Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers. That's it. The formula was so simple that it worked. But I also had to acknowledge that Predator 2 couldn't get away with the same formula, but in a city. Could it? Well, I'm going to give Stephen Hopkins all kinds of credit. I originally thought that Predator 2 tried to commit the ultimate sin by mythologizing the monster.
Because I always knew how Predator 2 ended. Someone from high school told me that Predator 2 ended with Harrigan meeting a council of Predators who adorn him with an ancient gun, implying that they hunt creatures from all over the universe (including xenomorphs) to find the ultimate prey. They bestow prizes upon the survivors, which in this case includes Harrigan. I always thought that this gave too much away. It began the downfall of the Predator franchise (which, in reality, was probably never that much of a successful franchise so much as a movie that kept getting sequels). I always believe that cryptic films should kind of stay cryptic. It's the issue that Prometheus really stressed.
But I didn't realize how little of this movie added to the mythos of Predator. If anything, this movie might be too devoted to the first film. It's got that Jason Takes Manhattan feel to it where the story is pretty much the same, but it is set in a city. Man, movie franchises love doing that. If the first one was somewhat isolated, we have to see what it would look like in a densely populated area. I can't really think of one example where that formula works. But we keep returning to that well or water purification plant. Instead of Arnold, we have Danny Glover. I got real vibes of this movie being Lethal Weapon vs. Predator rather than being a wholly unique movie. It's really weird having Danny Glover play the Riggs role in this one. For a little bit, I really thought that Shane Black directed this movie. I mean, look at this cast. It cherry picked a lot of the actors from the Lethal Weapon movies.
But I also realized that movies like Lethal Weapon and Predator 2 are the basis for every conservative phobia that we're dealing with right now. (Okay, not single handedly. Fox News and the internet have a lot to apologize for.) But look at this movie. It set in the near future of 1997, where the police are militarized beyond imagination. It's set in Los Angeles, a haven for race based gangs. And the only thing standing between survival and sheer chaos is an overworked police force who brandish the largest weapons imaginable. It's hilarious to see Danny Glover open up his trunk and basically choose which anti-tank armament will take out which drug lord. Civilians are harassed by gang members and protect themselves with handguns because everyone has a handgun. (I don't get the argument that "my gun is bigger". Both will kill pretty immediately.) The film demonizes the news media was hawkish yellow journalists. Yeah, I can see why boomers are terrified of minorities after movies like this. It's kind of gross. I mean, the film celebrates how many times that Harrigan crosses the line and violates people civil rights. He's the hero of the film. And we're supposed to look at it like, "Of course he needs to violate people's rights! Have you seen LA?"
But then I think that the filmmakers forgot their theme. The one thing that we knew about the Predator was that he killed people with weapons. If Jason warned against teenage vice like drugs and sex, Predator was fundamentally a gun control metaphor. And the Predator in Predator 2 also follows the same rules. He kills anything with a gun. But the weird part of the metaphor that doesn't really make sense is that the Predator is armed to the teeth. And the only reason that Danny Glover wins isn't through cleverness, like Arnold did in the first movie. Nope. He wins because he's better at using weapons than the Predator is. I mean, I get it. It's the city, not the jungle. But the movie kind of just ends because Danny Glover stabs the alien when it is exposed. Kind of a letdown. But this leads me to the weirdest thing about the Predator movies:
Why is this kind of safari supposed to be honorable? I mean, the safaris that humans take part in are also unfair, so I guess I can't talk. (Except I can, because I never want to hunt on safari. Or hunt in general.) But the Predators are so over weaponized that they can't really find their great warriors until they leave enough of a body count. Being invisible seems a bit unfair, right? Also, sometimes bullets do damage. Sometimes, bullets don't do anything. They also get really explosive when they lose? How is any of that a hunter's honor? It's just goofy. Maybe that's the commentary. Regardless, it doesn't really sell.
It's a goofy movie. I kind of enjoy these movies for how over the top they are. But this one felt a little more gross than the others. Not in terms of gore, but the very intentionally politically incorrect elements of this movie just left a sour taste in my mouth.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.