Top 10 Reasons "Predator 2" Is the Best of the “Predator” Franchise

by Warren Cantrell on May 12, 2009

in Top 10s

Warren J. Cantrell is a writer based out of Seattle, WA. In his email to us, he listed his interests/likes as skydiving, boat racing, bull fighting, midget wrestling, and generally staying as extreme as possible. He described himself (seriously) as “a long-gone-daddy standing seven and a half feet tall with a chin as mighty as any on Rushmore, calves like cinder blocks, with ten feet of #*&@, and two buckets of *@#&.” (Censored for effect in the intro here, but Warren’s story is censor-free! Read on.) He is also the first Scene-Stealers sitegoer to write a Top 10 list about ONE MOVIE, a 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger-less sequel at that. This Top 10 is also notable for its creation of the past-tense word “wad-shot.” Love it.

Here’s Warren with the Top 10 Reasons “Predator 2” Is the Best of the “Predator” Franchise:

glover predator 210. Danny Glover

While many might maintain (and with little argument from the majority) that this film was but a diversification attempt at a resume which had, up to this point, disgustingly few “Alien”-themed roles: look deeper. Not only is D. Glove ripped as shit for this role (an obvious sign of Arnold-like commitment to some serious other-world ethnic cleansing) his mere presence in the film is enough to draw out the Captain from “Lethal Weapon” in a bit part as the SWAT Team Commando (check the credits, yeah, that’s Steve Kahan). In short, Danny Glover and the script were so awesome that people obviously had a line forming to the left to get in on “Predator 2”—this miracle of cinema.

predator 2 in the city9. The Setting

While a group of commandos gone missing in Central America has its charms, let’s be honest: We all wanted to see ol’ pussy-face go crazy in South Central, raising indiscriminate hell with both the bloods and crips. While the script goes a bit off-course with a curious cartel war between the Jamaicans and Columbians (ah, the 90s!), the fact remains that the possibilities were endless. What if we want to break the tension by inserting Final Jeopardy music and an old woman stalking the antagonist with a broom? No problem. What if we want to introduce a spurious car-chase scene to prep the finale? Check. What if we want to use that bad-ass trumpet music to underscore another death, yet need an urban cemetery to set up the shot? Piece of cake. That every “Predator” movie since has not taken place in a bustling metropolis is a tragic crime.

pedator 2 title screen8. Lack of Creativity

Nothing ruins a movie like a plot that’s too damn creative for its own good. In a Predator film, there’s only a few necessary ingredients—all other contributions are a threat to a perfect formula. These necessities are: a generous body count, an impeccably masculine lead, and few if any breaks in the action (which should remain human v. alien-based). That’s it. No need to earnestly delve into secondary characters or get creative with the deeper meaning or context of who is right, wrong, evil, or good (seriously, I mean, they actually teamed the Predator up WITH the hero in “Alien vs. Predator”? What the crap?). Let’s keep it simple: a badass runs afoul of an alien during an intergalactic slaughter-vacation—violence ensues. Don’t fix things that aren’t broken.

predator 2 in city 19907. The Final Showdown

While Arnold gets extra points in his column for his monstrous, mud-covered, torch-in-hand battle-cry prior to the final duel in 1987’s “Predator,” D. Glove once again takes it a step further. If observed from a distance, few can argue that the finale of “Predator 2” takes its predecessor’s best intentions and accomplishments, and absolutely beats them into a fever. Arnold covered all of 100 square yards from end-to-end in his battle while the sequel takes extra advantage of roughly 40 city blocks, including a slaughterhouse (extra awesome points for that alone), and ending at last in an underground subway/hobo sanctuary. Spielberg, Scorsese, Coppola, all of the greats learned a valuable lesson from this film: If given the chance to chase an alien, use as much real-estate as possible!

paxtonsubway.jpg6. The Subway

While already mentioned in regards to setting, this particular sequence deserves its own discussion, as there’s too much awesome to reign in with this category. Not only does this section of the film kick off the ensuing climax (pretty much the last half of the movie), it houses probably the greatest killing in film history. What do you do after you and every other armed patron of the underground-long-bus unloads all 47 dozen rounds to no effect? I’ll tell you what, you pick up a 2 ft. machete (who cares why it’s there, it is!), squint into the coming darkness, and repeat Bill Paxton’s greatest line of the film: “Come on, motherfucker! Let’s dance!” I still weep every time I watch this scene; the purity of manliness simply too much to bear.

predator 2 19905. Conspicuous Lack of Important Female Characters

Just because Ridley Scott and James Cameron miraculously pulled it off doesn’t mean it’s a formula for success. “Predator 2” keeps the camera and the action rooted in what invariably puts movies in the “awesome” column: Male, no-nonsense hot-heads that play by their own rules and the bloodthirsty seven-plus-ft.-tall space creatures they are chasing. Period. End of story. No sideplots about deeper emotional involvement or budding romantic chemistry. The one female character with more than two minutes of screen time is utilized as an ancillary plot-filler to keep the audience busy while D. Glove’s crew is slowly reduced to naught. The moment her character is given even the slightest depth (we find out Maria Conchita Alonso is pregnant), she is immediately crammed into a waiting ambulance, never to be seen again. After I’m done writing this, I’m penning a note to the producers of “Predator 2” thanking them for their courage and foresight, and will forward a copy to every piece-of-shit Hollywood hack that force-feeds romantic involvement and R-to-PG-13 editing adjustments.

untitled-2.jpg4. Increased Violence Levels

While credit should be given where due (The first “Predator” was violent as fuck), “Predator 2” takes murder, mutilation, and torture to new heights. The assault on the prison camp at the beginning of “Predator” certainly deserves a nod for a sustained orgy of automatic gunfire and death, yet like so many to have come before and since, the movie finds itself wad-shot and out of spooge for the remainder of the picture. Sure, over 60 seconds of jungle blind-firing and a one-armed Apollo Creed spice things up later, but the body count is suspiciously low for the second half of 1987’s “Predator.” In “Predator 2,” we get an open-air police v. cartel gunfight, drug kingpin torture and mutilation, a subway holocaust, and special government ops dudes in a veritable frozen limb pile. This is all aside from the fact that D. Glove finishes the goddamned Predator off in #2 with a spinning dagger-blade-thing as opposed to letting the slimy space-cunt finish the job off itself. That each new Predator installment should incrementally increase the violence level ought to be written into the franchise contract, something this film took to heart. [Special note/evidence: “Predator 2” had to re-edit roughly 20 times to get an R rating, as it was originally slapped with an NC-17.]

predator 2 alien skull3. A Promise of Good Things To Come
Never has a film said so much with so little. As many noticed in the years between “Predator 2” and the abortion that would come to fruition as “Alien Vs. Predator,” once Glover’s character is aboard the Predator’s vessel near the end of the movie, an Alien skull is visible on the trophy mantle. With this second or two of screen time, endless possibilities grew into realistic promise. And not in an amateur “the movie is over, but here’s a quick teaser clip” moment either, but with a subtle, silent image that opened up a universe of awesome sequel/prequel scenarios. It would be over a decade until this promise was ruined by an absolute shit-storm of bad leads and even worse acting. Personally, when I go to sleep at night, I like to pretend that “Predator 2” really was the last film in the franchise thus far, and that if one waits long enough, the true promise of “Alien vs. Predator” will be fulfilled.

gary busey predator 22. The Perfect Storm of Awesome: Busey and Paxton

Let’s face it, Christmas only comes once a year, and while birthdays, the Fourth of July, and St. Patty’s provide wonderfully reliable excuses to drink and celebrate the awesomeness of awesome, the best gifts always come at the end of December. That this movie provided the union of two of the greatest forces on the planet is—to use a tired expression—the gift that keeps giving. Gary Busey and Bill Paxton in the same movie: What took so long? The inclusion of either is usually enough to elevate a mediocre movie into Oscar-contention, that this film threw two extra logs on the fire makes this one of the biggest award snubs in all of history. Academy: For shame!

danny glover predator 21. A Moment of Honor

Who saw this coming? In the original, the villainous creature is so disgusted with the dishonor of miserable defeat, it kills itself rather than further advance humiliation. This is understandable, and worthy of a man-nod (it would be like you getting out-thought and killed by the scheming deer you were hunting, and all of your friends finding out later because the news made it large as a humorous aside on Letterman). In the glorious sequel, the Predator attempts the seppuku-like maneuver, yet can’t even get THIS right, losing an arm in the attempt. I’d like to think that it was this kind of dumb-fuckery that convinced the Predator Council at the end to spare D. Glove rather than exacting vengeance for butchering one of their own. Surely, had a puny 20th century human bushwhacked a Predator heavy, the ending would have been drastically different, our proud hero losing his skull and skin in a Hollywood minute in a reflexive act of revenge. Yet somehow the good lieutenant found the sweet spot, killing a sturdy Predator (yet obviously one not well-liked by its peers, as it seems enough respect got conveyed that the Predators understood killing a man as rock-solid as D. Glove would be a tragedy in any universe). As if signaling to the audience that a worthy installment had just entered the holy lexicon, the Predator Council lets the hero walk, even tossing a stupid human weapon/keepsake as if to state, “Good job on this one. Take this for later: You’ve earned a return visit.” Indeed D. Glove and company did. This cannot be said, however, for those who would follow.

“Obvious Child” is the debut novel of Warren Cantrell, a film and music critic based out of Seattle, Washington. Mr. Cantrell has covered the Sundance and Seattle International Film Festivals, and provides regular dispatches for Scene-Stealers and his own site, 10rant.com. Warren holds a B.A. and M.A. in History, and his hobbies include bourbon drinking, novel writing, and full-contact kickboxing. Mr. Cantrell is happily unmarried, and without any children, pets, or plants.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Reed May 12, 2009 at 9:19 am

Re #5 – The ladies: What’s wrong with a little eye candy? Was the performance of Elpidia Carrillo that intrusive in the first Predator? I say no – her part was crucial to convey just how terrifying the Predator was. Plus, she was smoking hot. I fail to see how this is a problem.

I’ll have to take another gander at this one. All I can remember about it is that Roger Ebert deemed it racist, and of course the last scene which was great and actually gave added meaning to the original.

My take on the first one is here:
http://fightingtheyouth.blogspot.com/2007/01/schwarzenegger-sunday-predator.html

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2 Eric Melin May 12, 2009 at 9:56 am

Wow. I had no idea there was so much love for this … ahem … film series.

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3 Jonathan May 12, 2009 at 10:06 am

Sweet list! I remember watching this when I was like 13 or 14; what a nuts movie. The subway scene actually had me fearing for the characters, and the sweet ending, with the Alien skull and the honor bestowed upon the Glove by the Predators, will always be firmly entrenched in my mind. Plus, looking at things from a graphics point of view, this ending sure beats the one in the first movie, which had a lame Ghostbusters-esque light show of an explosion =P

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4 Alan Rapp May 12, 2009 at 11:29 am

Although I don’t share your love for this flick, I enjoyed reading your defense of it. Reason #6 was my favorite, and hard to argue against. Nice.

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5 Eric Melin May 12, 2009 at 11:30 am

Anyone remember the subway stuff from Guillermo del Toro’s “Mimic”? pretty sweet!

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6 TMC May 13, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Dude, I had to find a dictionary to figure out what you were saying,
but after I deciphered it…..IT WAS AMAZING…Im gonna have to rent it now,You friggin sold that shit!
Peace Bro.

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7 BishopWMarshall May 13, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Wow, dude who wrote this article is dead on. If you did a bible top 10 list I would follow it as gospel! More articles please.

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8 Voilodion June 12, 2009 at 8:43 pm

“What’s wrong with a little eye candy?”–Reed

We go to these films to watch stuff blow up, not to play with ourselves.

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9 Jizzboy November 23, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Hmm let’s see..

Predator 1 has Arnold

Predator 2 has that awesome sex scene

hmmm…

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10 TR July 9, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Great points, Predator 2 is no doubt the most underrated sequel ever. Just the frenetic PACE of it all beats the original.

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11 Eric Melin July 10, 2010 at 1:54 pm
12 Jack's Tattoos July 13, 2010 at 8:29 pm

awesome write-up. Predator 2 is incredibly underrated in my opinion. great points. very different then one. one is classic but this was a worthy sequel. Great points on fleshing out the Predator character. This movie is very tense, as was the first. The subway scene was pretty terrifying.

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13 Ator Pred October 7, 2010 at 1:02 pm

nice article, but i still like predator 1 better. my reasons:

1. arnold
2. the handshake moment
3. the jungle environment and the score by alan silvestri
4. the way the suspense was built (one death at a time, showed the predator very little, etc)
5. most importantly, the plot was enjoyable to follow, unlike certain city elements thrown in predator 2 (which are now a nice nostalgic reminder of those times, ill agree). but predator 1 was solely about the predator and the team and more ‘gripping’ in my opinion.

but both movies are great!

and although the rest are bad, its always nice to see some form of predators doing their thing as opposed to a lot of other crap out there specially these days.

having said that, i think im gonna go see predator 2 now cuz of your article it sure as hell was a sweet movie

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14 Jeda November 15, 2010 at 8:52 am

Well said! I am one of the few who loves Predator 2 and defend it with passion. Sure, when I first saw it at cinema, the beginning of the movie puzzled me because the over the top action was reminiscent of a cheap action movie from the 80s, but Predator 2 is one of these rare movies that doesn’t start very well but keep getting better, and better, and better until, I agree, the best finale in all Predator movies. And it’s far better to have a movie that keeps on getting better than a movie that starts well but bores you before the end. I disagree with only one thing on your paragraph for ‘moment of honor’: It is a moment of honor but the weapon is not a stupid human weapon in the Predators’ view. It’s a trophy taken from a human who despite living in the 17th century (if I remember), just like D. Glover managed to fight back and probably killed a Predator somehow. It’s an homage and it’s just a beautiful scene without words. They’ve been at it for a long time, that’s how D. knows they’ll be back…

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15 Jayhawklvr December 10, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Wow, have never watched #2, automatically classifing it as a cheap imitation because what could top the first one… you have convinced me to check it out, Netflix here I come..

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16 adiaz January 5, 2011 at 3:08 am

Excellent article,completely agree with the top 10 and the crap that AVP and AVPR are,¿where can i sign up for a re-release with the deleted scenes?

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