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:
10. 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.
9. 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.
8. 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.
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!
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.
5. 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.
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.]
3. 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.
2. 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!
1. 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.