another bomb, reviewed for you



Still life with “Predator 2” and a bag of week-old compost

Last night we watched an action movie from 1990, Predator 2. If I had seen the movie in 1990, when I was 10, it might have scared me; in the year 2016, Predator 2 gave me acute cranial pain, but that was it. A buffet table of mediocre actors appeared in this low budget affair—but the real star was Predator, the main and only bad guy. For the rest of this review, I’ll refer to Predator by the name Lt. Harrigan (Danny Glover) made up for him: “Pussyface”.

This movie takes place in L.A. of the future—1997—though the cars and haircuts are all from the mid-80s. The opening scene is a major shootout on a city street, betwixt L.A. cops and caricatures of Columbian drug lords. One of the first lines in Predator 2 is “You focking bandejos!” followed by grenade launched slo-mo explosions; this movie took stereotyping minorities to new lows.

The police are getting nowhere until the Columbianos run back inside their strong house to snort handfuls of flour and shriek like banshees, providing time for bad cop dialogue and modest recon. Lt. Harrigan arrives on the scene, along with his ragtag team of L.A.’s finest: Officer Danny (Reuben Blades), the token good Latino; and Officer Badass Female—I can’t remember her character’s name, the actress is Maria Conchita Alonso. Eventually they are joined by Rookie Cop With Shoulder Pads (Bill Paxton), and together this crew represents the city’s best hope against Pussyface. By the way, Predator 2 was directed by Stephen Hopkins, who yelled at Reuben Blades so badly on Good Morning America they made him return on a later show to apologize; that tidbit plus this soggy meatloaf of an action movie are all I know about him.

Lt. Harrigan and co. take out the Columbians, and then climb to the roof, wearing confused faces—everyone saw an invisible guy’s dotted outline up there…but where did he go? They walk back downstairs and are confronted by a pile of chopped up bodies and blood splatter from floor to ceiling. It seems most of Predator 2’s prop budget went to cheap mannequins, cardboard guns, and hundreds of gallons of red finger paint.

From here, the “action” shifts to HQ, where an angry mob of extras vies for camera time—every aspiring actor in Los Angeles has just been arrested. Enter Peter Keys, DEA agent (Gary Busey), in the role of oppressive federal agent sticking his nose in Harrigan’s business. Gary Busey is pretty much the worst actor in this movie, though it’s possible he was asked to constantly maintain the same expression, to make Danny Glover look like even more of a spas. Agent Keys has been secretly tracking Pussyface for 15 years; he took the DEA job as a cover, in yet another nonsensical piece of information.

Back to the script—which was possibly conceived by throwing The Creature from the Black Lagoon and a bad episode of Miami Vice into a blender, then handing the resulting mess to the cast two hours before shooting started. Bah, where was I…everyone thinks the gruesome killings striking L.A.’s drug gangs are just turf wars; everyone except Lt. Harrigan, who keeps showing up five minutes late to every crime. His tardiness offers a glimpse of Pussyface, who frolics up on the rooftops, chewing on a plastic leg. Pussyface has infrared vision, to sense the heat of his victims; this poorly executed effect gave me a terrible headache (but it was a break from cranking machine gun fire and lines like: “You’re cutting off my dick and sticking it up my ass!”). There’s another gangland scene, the Jamaicans vs. the Columbians, where twenty or thirty machine guns are emptied out in an apartment; the windows are completely shot out, but the couch in front of them is unscathed. Agent Danny sneaks back in later to look for clues (with a thoroughly misted face), and Pussyface kills him. Lt. Harrigan goes crazy with rage—now, it’s personal.

His first move is to enlist the help of the Jamaican gang, in a scene that manages to be more offensive than the one with Columbians snorting baking soda. The Jamaicans roll up in a zebra-top gold Cadillac, and when they open the car door vast clouds of smoke billow out. A minimum of four fog machines were used in this scene—or possibly all five actors really did smoke their ice-cream cone spliffs. They take Harrigan to another back alley (all the action in this movie takes place in different back alleys, filled with brand new cardboard boxes and the same three cars) to meet King Willie, the voodoo king of Los Angeles. This guy was dressed like a pirate, which told me he wouldn’t make it through the scene. Having known him for all of three minutes, King Willie’s gruesome death at the hands of Pussyface left me feeling low—another branch off a diseased plotline had ended, but how many more remained?

Cut to the subway, where Rookie Cop With Shoulder Pads and Officer Badass Female have their hands full with a bunch of bandana punks. Suddenly, the lights go out and guns blast: Pussyface is on the train! An extra shouted, “I can’t see!” to which I yelled back, “Me either!” Every other scene in Predator 2 is lit by a camping flashlight; possibly this was a cost-saving technique, or maybe the lighting guy was off getting toasted with the Jamaicans. The soundtrack is another example of fiscal prudence—ten, fifteen, twenty minutes went by with no music whatsoever. In the long, drawn-out final showdown between Harrigan and Pussyface, the only sound besides grunts and gunshots is the dainty plucking of violins, reminding me of my fifth grade orchestra concerts.

Oh yes, Rookie Cop With Shoulder Pads heroically stays behind in a doomed subway car to fight Pussyface; his last line, “C’mon motherfucker, let’s dance!” ensures he got a bad rebirth. Thin, trench-coat clad Officer Badass Female is maimed but not killed in the attack; in the ambulance an EMT glances at her once and says, “She’s pregnant.” I’ll assume he has x-ray vision and move on with the plot summary.

There follows a bewildering scene in a secret trailer (Agent Keys’ headquarters), where chunky men with highly gelled hair stomp around in shiny Mylar suits—it was like being in Devo’s trailer, but, alas, no one yelled “Whip it good!” (I believe one of these chunkheads was Alec Baldwin, rounding out the eighties B-roll). Finally, an hour and a half into the movie, Agent Keys explains what the hell Predator is doing on earth: hunting down humans on an interstellar safari. He lures Pussyface into a meat warehouse, but the trap soon goes awry, and ten more extras are sloppily sacrificed. Agent Keys gets chopped in half by Pussyface’s razor sharp Frisbee, so now it’s up to half-cocked Lt. Harrigan to save Los Angeles.

The final fight scene hangs on like a fart in a crowded elevator. Harrigan and Pussyface dangle from a rooftop; the much larger Pussyface claws deeply into Harrigan’s arm, but Harrigan dislodges him and suffers no blood loss at all, much less a fatal bleed-out from his brachial artery. After crashing through one more apartment, they end up in a flashy basement trophy room, where Pussyface keeps his neat-o alien skull collection. With the lethal Frisbee, Lt. Harrigan slices Pussyface in the chest; Pussyface stands three feet above the seated Harrigan, with two free sets of sharp claws next to Harrigan’s head—but after two hours of slaughtering people for a lark, Pussyface decides to just stand there and get killed. The only thing this movie knew how to do was make each stupid character consistent, and it even biffed this at the end. A solemn army of Pussyfaces drops in from elsewhere in the space-time continuum to lug their dead comrade’s body home. Danny Glover staggers out into the sunlight covered in baby powder, delivering his final bad line with resignation—kind of like, “Yes, it was a bad movie.”

The violence in this movie was constant, though unconvincing—it was all so fake, a big pile of ketchup blood and shredded shoulder pads. I felt bad for whoever had to clean the sets. Half-ass production values, a script unworthy of lining a hamster cage, and two hours of bad acting: ½ star and a bill for my ibuprofen, that’s what you get, Predator 2.


About emvlovely

Oh, I live in an RV. I write poems, essays and prose. Thanks for reading my blog, good health to you!
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