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Predator 2 Review

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In a sweltering near-future Los Angeles, being torn about by gang wars, a Predator arrives to test its mettle. As it picks off drug-dealers and innocents alike, tough-minded cop Mike Harrigan picks up his trail.

★★★★

Given Arnold Schwarzenegger and director John McTiernan had declined to return, this sequel to their macho sci-fi rumble in the jungle is surprisingly good. Aussie director Stephen Hopkins, coupled with the original writers, sensibly relocates to an urban setting, a keenly thought out Los Angeles on the not-too-distant horizon cooked by global warming and abused by furious gang warfare. In other words it’s ripe for the picking by a brand new Predator hoping to earn its Predator stripes.

There’s invention too in pitching not a muscle-bound alpha-lug like Arnie against the creepy chameleon skull collector, but a grizzled old cop in the out-of-shape shape of Danny Glover, clearly too old for this shit. He’ll have to use his street-smarts to defeat this unforeseen alien vigilante rather than brute testosterone. There’s a cute sub-plot, harkening to Robocop’s postmodern fillips, that the lanky, dreadlocked space-warrior is accidentally helping the police clean up the streets of Jamaican drug lord King Willie’s (Calvin Lockheart) equally dreadlocked foot soldiers. In fact, Schwarzenegger’s tired one-liners are not missed at all.

There’s plenty of gory action, as this younger more petulant Predator (still embodied by Kevin Peter Hall) also does his zappiest with Harrigan’s hot-and-bothered team, including Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso and a splendidly smarmy Bill Paxton. And while it may lack a bit of refinement, for all its big-boned antic force, the characters do get a look in, and that Alien in-joke at the close is a beauty.

More story-led than the original with a high enough body count to make it a satisfying action movie.