Let’s see why it took 20 years for a third film in the franchise to be made after this.
The originality and tightly distilled narrative of the original Predator is not only absent from this sequel, but they shit all over it and threw it off a high rise. Instead of a dense jungle setting, we are in LA (seven years in the future for some reason), in the middle of a super violent (and completely absurd) gang war. The setting of LA is damn near dystopian here, and the way it is presented actually makes the original film seem grounded.
We follow Mike (Danny Glover) and his team of misfit detectives as they solve crime by shooting it directly in the face. After a major shootout where some of the criminals are mysteriously killed, we are introduced to Peter Keyes (Gary Busey) and his merry gang of government killjoys. As Mike and crew try to figure out what Keyes is really investigating, they soon realize that something otherworld is hunting people in the city.
The most tragic part of this film is that there is a good movie idea buried here. An alien predator hunting criminals and cops for sport, and the government trying to capture it for research could make for an interesting film. Predator 2 offers these narratives threads only as a glimpse, and we are instead buried under horrid dialogue, clichéd plots, and an all-too-familiar tale.
The absurdity of the gang violence plays more like cautionary propaganda supporting segregation than any sort of plot point. You will ask yourself if this movie is trying to be racist, or if it just unintentional at several points. It seems they thought having Danny Glover as the lead would absolve them of presenting the absolute worst stereotypes imaginable.
Worse than all of this is the poor characters. In the original, the characters are thin, but at least they are likable. Here, all of the cops are more or less reduced to “good guy with a gun” tropes (aside from Bill Paxton’s character who is “obnoxious good guy with a gun”). I like Glover, but I think he was miscast here. He simply appears too smart to just be the brooding tough guy, and the film doesn’t allow the type of brooding masculinity to serve as character building that the first one does.
We also get a disruption of the lore, which is a common issue with sequels. In the first, the predator seems to be a near mythical being—a super hunter of sorts. Here, the predator seems to be part of a tribe that is just kind of hanging around LA for no real reason.
The real test of any sequel is whether it can make something not new feel new again. Now, they were wise to not do the same setting, but plopping it down into a gonzo action film was not the answer. All aspects of horror are gone here, and instead we have the predator reduced to an action film version of Jason at best.
I know a lot of people like this movie, so your mileage may vary, but I found it to be grating and unnecessary. The original would have been better left alone.
Can’t wait to watch the next one.