by Adam M. Wilcox
Now that 2018 is at last behind us, I think many of us can agree that The Predator, Shane Black’s entry into the franchise probably got more hate than it deserved. It was by no means a good film, but was it really THAT bad? Yes and no. Visually it looked great; the problem was the tone, and the script. Some feel the humor was a bit too forced, and overpowering. I believe it is going to be a fun movie later on down the road, and maybe not for the right reasons. This one may fall under cult classic, or so bad it’s good. Was that intentional? Only Shane Black knows for sure.
One thing I can’t help but notice is that The Predator franchise keeps repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results. By franchise, I am including only Predator movies, not that abomination that is Aliens Vs Predator, or AVP. That is another franchise, with its own set of problems, which happens to be another article for another day. The first mistake is that none of the sequels really build on anything set up by the first movie. The first movie Predator, the alien comes to earth to hunt soldiers. The second movie, Predator 2, another predator comes to hunt cops and gang bangers. In the third movie, Predators (Spoiler alert) soldiers AND gang bangers are dropped into a galactic wildlife preserve for the sole purpose of being hunted by the aliens. The Predator, as bat shit stupid as it is, at the very least tries to take the story in a different direction. So what does the audience really want? Do we want an entire reboot of Predator that hits all of the same beats as the first one? We already got one! While The Predator was universally panned by critics and fans, I personally feel that Predator 2 gets an overwhelming more amount of hatred than it deserves.
Set in the same timeline as the first movie, taking place a few years in the future. Crime has basically taken over in Los Angeles. Gangs and cocaine rule the land, and the gangs fight in a bloody street war to control the coke, while cops try desperately to intervene. The predator alien takes advantage once again of the violence, and the overwhelming summer heat to go on another safari. The machismo soldiers are abandoned this time for tough LA cops played by Danny Glover, Rubén Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, and Bill Paxton. In the meantime, a government agent named Peter Keys (played wonderfully by Gary Busey) is sent in to assess the overwhelming gang threat. Upon further investigation of the carnage caused by the mysterious force, Glover and his police officers discover that Key’s task force is an elaborate ruse to investigate an alien life form that comes to earth to hunt men for trophies. Eventually, Glover decides to hunt down the alien himself.
It is no secret that Hollywood is afraid to take risks, everything has to win. For every Predator, and The Matrix, there is another Jupiter Ascending, or Mortal Engines. Anything that struck gold once, will be remade, rebooted, and ran into the ground. There was a time however, when not all movies were designed to set up chapters in a story; rather, a sequel was created to give audiences more of what they liked about the last entry. This movie delivers on every level. You like the big action sequence where Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Special Forces team take out a compound full of terrorists? How about a giant gang war where cops and gang bangers are facing off in an abandoned factory where they have giant caches of automatic weapons and enough coke to make Tony Montana orbit the moon for a decade? All of this while the predator is jumping, and killing dudes with his cloaking thing engaged. Guns, coke, explosions, bullets, gore, full frontal nudity, crazy cops, quips, and bad one liners? This is the best of 80’s excess, only it came out in the early 90’s. In the 90s people had grown bored with just practical explosions and the twice the action, twice the fun approach of sequels. Crazy right? Now in an era where franchises are set up to have sequels made, and each movie has the tell the next chapter of the story…as convoluted as it turned out, Shane Black DID try to do that, but what people probably REALLY wanted was a proper sequel that was a sequel, that gave us the familiar nostalgia of the first movie and hit on the same beats, only using new characters. What people probably want right now believe it or not is Predator 2. It doesn’t help matters that it launched the same month as Misery, Dances with Wolves, and Home Alone. See, had Predator 2 performed better critically and commercially, I believe we would still have sequels to it now, with maybe even the same characters, OR, I would be perfectly happy with just having the same situation with different characters in different settings. A prequel where the monsters came to Earth in the 18th century, or the old west…maybe even ancient Egypt! I could have been fun! Now I don’t think The Predator, is going to be getting a sequel any time soon, but I think you should check it out, and give it another chance.
Predator 2 gets a 4 out of 5 cheese curds. It is not as good as the original, but it IS a worthy successor that gave me everything I expected, and man is it a hell of a rush to watch. God forbid, if they try to resurrect this franchise again, I would maybe make a direct sequel to the first one, the second one, or maybe just do what I said before and set it in a different time, or a different planet, and maybe not worry so much about starting franchises and setting up convoluted sequels. Just give us a fun movie. Half of the fun of the original is the reveal, now that we know what these things do, what they look like, and why they do what they do, what is the point of continuing if for no other reason that to keep making money? We go for the fun, and this movie is non stop fun!