8 Reasons Predator 2 Is the Best in the Series

Laser Time, Predator 2, Bill Paxton, best, movie, Predator, Alien, AvP, Terminator, Danny Glover, Alan Silvestri, 20th Century Fox

Legendary director Ingmar Bergman once said of cinema, “No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.”  In the film Predator 2, Danny Glover’s character Mike Harrigan said, “Okay, pussy face, it’s your move.”

And that is Predator 2 in a nutshell: harsh, intense, blunt, and above all, aggressive.  Predator 2 is a nasty piece of work, and I mean that in the best way possible. Full of awesome action, brutal violence, and more f-bombs than you can shake a smart disc at, Predator 2 has always been a personal favorite of mine, and I’ve long felt that it has been unjustly maligned ever since its release back in 1990.

That’s right, 1990, which means 2015 marks the sci-fi sequel’s 25th anniversary.  What better time to count down the many reasons why Predator 2 is the best Predator of them all?

1. Twentieth Century Fox spared no expense.

Laser Time, Predator 2, Bill Paxton, best, movie, Predator, Alien, AvP, Terminator, Danny Glover, Alan Silvestri, 20th Century Fox

Expensive.

Though the budget for Predator 2 is listed at $35 million, it looks like it cost twice that amount, and director Stephen Hopkins deserves much of that credit. His vision of a near-future Los Angeles is shot through an impressive array of camera techniques, from ultra-smooth steadicam work to long, elaborate dolly shots. Combine that with razor-sharp editing, and the movie is a visual stunner, which brings us to the production itself: elaborate sets, large scale location shots in the heart of Los Angeles, amazing practical effects, and a tremendously talented cast.

And to top it all off, Predator 2 was given the Thanksgiving holiday for its opening weekend, one of the top four premier weekends for the entire year (Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Christmas being the other three). Regardless of the Monday morning quarterbacking that came afterwards, Fox was all-in on Predator 2.

2 . No Arnold?  No problem.

Much of the blame for Predator 2’s lack of box office success was placed on Arnold Schwarzenegger not returning. I never understood this argument. The movie is about the Predator, not Arnold’s special ops unit. It only made sense for there to be a new group of characters to follow, and a new environment as well. Anything else would be a simple rehash of the first movie. I’m looking at you, Predators.

Laser Time, Predator 2, Bill Paxton, best, movie, Predator, Alien, AvP, Terminator, Danny Glover, Alan Silvestri, 20th Century Fox

Never too old for this shit.

Danny Glover may not have been the iconic action hero that Arnold was, but he sure gave it his best shot — and gave us one of sci-fi’s most memorable characters in return. Mike Harrigan is one serious motherfucker, a tightly wound coil of pure testosterone and aggression. He isn’t just a loose cannon: he’s a loose artillery battalion. Get in his way, and he will knock you the fuck out.  He is the action movie version of Honey Badger.

3. We now join our story, already in progress…

One of the great things about both Predator movies is that they would still be compelling stories even if the Predator weren’t there killing everybody. Set ten years after the events of the first movie, Predator 2 takes place in the “future” world of 1997, but doesn’t go overboard on the futuristic setting. The only indication that the movie is set in the future is that all the guns have laser sights, and the police drive around in Pontiac Transport vans.

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Pictured: future cops.

However, the near-future setting is important, because the movie depicts Los Angeles as a war zone, with rival gangs of Colombian and Jamaican drug cartels fighting for control of the city. The police are out numbered and outgunned, barely keeping their heads above water. The city is on the verge of marshal law, and that’s before the Predator even shows up. Much like the spec-ops mission of the first movie, the LA war zone is a fantastic setting for a great action movie. The alien hunter from space who rips out spines and keeps them for trophies is just icing on the cake.

4. The Predator is bigger, better, and more badass.

In the first movie, the Predator had only his cloaking device, wrist blades, and shoulder cannon (self-destruction capabilities don’t really count). Much like human hunters who stalk animals, the Predator shows up to the hunt with the odds in his favor, ready to take on prey that has no idea he is there with ridiculously overpowered weaponry.

Laser Time, Predator 2, Bill Paxton, best, movie, Predator, Alien, AvP, Terminator, Danny Glover, Alan Silvestri, 20th Century Fox

Fatality.

Our hunter in Predator 2 comes with the standard weapons, but packs a whole new bag of goodies: a net launcher, a retractable spear, a spear gun, and the smart disc — a heat seeking, bladed frisbee of death. There have been countless iterations of the Predator in comic books, video games, and a movies, but his arsenal has remained largely unchanged since Predator 2, because it just doesn’t get much better.

5. It is Alan Silvestri’s finest hour.

Music composer Alan Silvestri is arguably best known for his scores to Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, and, well, Predator. This is for good reason: Alan Silvestri is an outstanding music composer whose list of film scores is riddled with excellence. And Predator 2 might just be the best of them all.

Silvestri takes the themes established in the first movie and cranks them up well beyond eleven. With an ever-so-intensified tempo, the percussion hits a little harder, the strings stab a little sharper, and the horns hit you in the chest like a sledgehammer. Added to the mix are a fresh set of tribal drums and a creepy, low-end vocal chorus. The results are audio gold.

If you need any convincing, just listen to the End Titles suite — an eight minute tour de force that starts off slowly and softly before weaving upwards of six or seven distinctly different motifs, building and building to a monumental climax. It is equal parts mysterious and sinister, epicly sweeping and intensely action packed. If you get to the end of that track and don’t feel goosebumps, you better go see a doctor, because you are probably dead.

6. Bill Paxton completes the movie monster trifecta.

Spoiler alert: lots of people die in this movie, most of them very violently. In fact, Predator 2 was reportedly the first movie to earn an NC-17 rating purely for violence — it was edited several times to get an R rating (even Stephen Hopkins himself seemed shocked by the violence in his own movie when he recorded his director’s commentary for the DVD). Bill Paxton is among the vast body count, making him the first and only actor to die onscreen at the hands of a Predator, an Alien, and a Terminator. But he doesn’t go down without a fight. Paxton’s death in Predator 2 is much more heroic and dignified than either of those other movies.

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Anyone with an ID badge has said dignity.

And before anyone says, “But Lance Henrickson in The Terminator, Aliens, and AvP…” remember, Bishop survived his encounter with the Queen in Aliens. It was the escape pod’s crash in Alien 3 that was his ultimate undoing.

7. It has a massive 30-minute climax.

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Sup?

The final showdown between Dutch and the Predator in the first movie was a classic mano a mano movie beatdown, but much of the climax played out like a Splinter Cell stealth mission. By contrast, the finale of Predator 2 is more like a kinetic, nonstop deathmatch in Titanfall, and it lasts nearly one-third of the movie’s running time.

It starts with an intense shootout in a high speed subway before spilling out into the LA streets, through a meat-packing plant, across rooftops, down elevator shafts, and finally ending up somewhere we’ve never been before — inside the Predator’s ship itself. Speaking of which…

8. The Predator has a sick trophy case.

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A universe is born.

The backstory of the Predator was only hinted at in the first movie. Predator 2 opened up a whole universe of mythology the moment Harrigan discovered the Predator’s trophy case aboard the ship. Not only does it contain a few human skulls, but wide rage of creature skulls too, including the jaw-dropping Alien Xenomorph.

Never before had one sci-fi movie made such a direct connection to another with that magnitude. Predator 2 may not have been seen by a lot of people when it hit theaters, but everyone remembered that scene. It was the mother of all Easter eggs that spawned the vast Aliens vs Predator franchise that now includes comic books, video games, expanded universe novels, and even two movies. For better or worse, our pop culture gained a lot from what was intended to be a small, inside joke.

Honorable Mention: There’s “fucking voodoo magic!”

There might be no sequence more bonkers than the one including the quote above. About twenty minutes into the movie, the camera enters the apartment of the Colombian drug lord El Scorpio. He is so busy having crazy sex with his girlfriend that it takes him several moments to notice a band of Jamaican gang members have broken into his home.

The Jamaicans are there to prove their superiority over the Colombians by capturing their leader and cutting out his heart (which they do). But then the Predator shows up, kills the Jamaicans in a massive firefight, and shows them who’s boss by hanging them up and skinning them. It is an insane series of events that you will likely never see in a movie again.

Laser Time, Predator 2, Bill Paxton, best, movie, Predator, Alien, AvP, Terminator, Danny Glover, Alan Silvestri, 20th Century Fox

Teehee.

Article by contributor JC.

19 thoughts on “8 Reasons Predator 2 Is the Best in the Series

  1. hmm… I do remember liking this movie a lot as a teen. I always assumed because it was the sophomore release, it inherently lacked some magic. but, you may be on to something.
    also, do you think the inclusion of Paxton in all those films was on purpose or a beautiful mistake?

  2. I really loved that columbian crackhead dude in the beginning, that does a pound of coke and then has a classic cocaine mustache with a kick ass green Chris Redfield flak jacket!

  3. First of all: thanks to everyone who has read and commented, and to anyone in the future who will read and/or comment. Predator 2 has always been a personal favorite, and I know my opinion of it being better than the first goes against the majority, but I think if you view less as a direct sequel and more as the second entry into the Predator Cinematic Universe, you can appreciate it more for what it is: A kick ass early 90s sci-fi action monster movie.

    And now I must say how excited and thrilled I am to have a piece of my work published on Laser Time. I would have never discovered this site had it not been for Dave and Chris’s brief run as co-hosts of the OXM podcast. I was fairly new to podcasts back then and was always looking for something cool to listen to. Fast forward a few years and now Laser Time is part of my life on almost a daily basis.

    I have a weird job that allows me to listen to headphones all day. I listen to a mix of sports radio (I know – gross), movie soundtracks, heavy metal, and podcasts – which includes lots and lots of Laser Time content.

    Because of you guys I’ve discovered weird and funny stuff like Batman The Musical, got back into comics and have a much deeper understanding of many of the characters and stories, and I’ve even picked up on some of your mannerisms: here in the midwest, we don’t use the word “gross” like you guys do, but because of the podcast, now I do.

    Congratulations on your Patreon success, of which I am a contributor (BTW: who are the weirdos donating odd amounts of cents?). And thanks again for providing me a space for my weird pop culture soap box to speak of the glory that is Predator 2; I look forward to writing more soon.

  4. I am very tempted to rate Predator 2 as being even better than the original, but the lack of Carl Weathers is a bit of a dealbreaker. Still, Predator 2 is much greater than most give it credit for, and it DOES at least have Gary Busey to boot, so I think it’s impossible for anyone with half-sense to at least dislike it.

  5. I still feel the first one is the best but I absolutely love this movie! Something about blockbuster movie sequels in the 80’s, they were generally pretty good.

  6. Surely an enjoyable article, but a sympathizer I am not.

    Setting a film in LA is a classic 80s/90s film production GameShark code. Think about it; where are all the production companies/crew/cast already located? They certainly did not go all-out in that regard.

  7. I guess the same argument can be made when comparing Terminator to T2, but to a lesser degree. I consider both Predators’ to be solid movies. Part one is a classic, and for me, it wins by default, but Predator 2 would equal it on a scale of quality.

  8. First, I do like predator 2, always did, from the get. But it does not and cannot ever compare to number one. That’s like comparing, bare with me here ,can’t think of one, Scarface with AL Pacino and all the gadgets and guns and bombs, to a classic of all time, Goodfellas. Now I may be reaching a bit here but there are some similarities.
    All of the guys in Predator are men and the entrance song is cool. They are all big strong heavy duty men on a mission that is on display in the first firefight. They are trained killers. In Predator 2 we have Gloved yelling at everybody like a baby that didn’t get his way. Then the terrible actress Alonso pointing her gun in the air at times when firing and may be 105 lbs soaking wet, a joke in casting. Then the other horrible actor, in this movie, Paxton, over acting and trying to be cool and it comes off like he is a non trained cop and actor. And R. Blades I feel sorry for because he is the only true blue actor and true blue cool cat in the film. Busey lost his mind, enough said.
    Predator 1 had men and Predator 2 had annoying people, for the most part, that thankfully got offset by the action in the movie. So it’s one all the way, less annoying.
    Oh yeah, why was the the voo doo King killed??? He wasn’t showing any weapon before the fight, so why was the Predator following him???
    Thanks for reading
    God Bless
    James

    1. I’ll let you have your “men” of Predator and take a motley crew of cops thanks.
      (Heros so packed with steroids that they can hardly move have never done much for me.)

      “Oh yeah, why was the the voo doo King killed??? He wasn’t showing any weapon before the fight, so why was the Predator following him???”
      The Predator was following Harrigan not King Willie. As for why he was attacked either the Predator knew he was armed (it could tell the little kid’s toy uzi wasn’t real) or simply knew that Willie was a worthy opponent, which obviously turned out to be the case as his skull was taken as a trophy.

  9. Oh my goodness man this article is absolutely hilarious, I read it out loud to get the full effect and did I ever crack up in Roaring laughter so many times reading it. Bravo bro this article is sums up exactly why Predator 2 is the best of the all them. This film sits in my top 3 favorite sequels ever made, the other two of course being Terminator 2 and aliens. I just finished watching the movie and I just figured I wanted to go and read some reviews on it because this movie has never got the respect that it is owed and I found your review which I love so freaking much that I shared it on my Facebook wall. This movie is just packed with so many awesome moments you can’t even list them all, like the predators self surgery in the bathroom which was just so brutal to watch and listen to. And you absolutely are 100% right about Danny Glover’s performance, my God this man just kick ass in every scene he was in, he was so awesome to root for. And the last flight the way he Relentless just hunts after the Predator from the Meat Plant to the rooftops down to the tunnel , to the final showdown in their ship. Till he finally just stabbed that smart disc practically all the way through the Predators chest and was like that’s right asshole, shit happens! And then he gets rewarded with that old gun from the Elder Predator that was so freaking awesome oh my goodness I want to watch it again now!

  10. Predator 2 was not the best the first predator was better the reason is predator 2 was cheesy and had bad dialog parts that should not be there plus bad voice acting.

  11. I would say that the plight of the characters in Predator 2 is more unjust – therefore more compelling – as the hunter comes to the prey. Arnie’s squad goes to the slaughter in Predator, albeit unknowingly. There’s an unspoken feeling that ‘if only they’d stayed put, serves ’em right for globetrotting to dangerous places’ evoked by Predator.

  12. Yeah I always had the impression Predator 2 had nothing going for it, but I watched it yesterday and it was just amazing! I watched the 2010 Predators film afterwards, I bet a lot of people prefer it, but it is indeed too similar to Predator and goes back to a typical moulded sequel without breaking new ground. It introduces interesting characters and ideas but doesn’t dare enough with them, like it’s afraid of creating a new legacy. Most importantly Predator and Predator 2 both have a real sense of mystery and investigation and discovery… Predators on the other hand, the two main characters are even frequently one step ahead of the audience; the plot moves forward because the characters have the knowledge and experience to deal with the situation more than the previous films, so it doesn’t feel like we’re on the journey with them, and it seems like they have it all covered.

  13. Predator 2 delivered everything I expected from the disastrously-awful Robocop 2, released just a few months earlier. The sets were astounding; loved the drug dealer’s.crimson-lit bedroom. The bodies hanging from the ceiling were reminiscent of Hellbound: Hellraiser II. The tone was much more akin to a gory, hard-R HORROR movie than the first one.

    Also loved the smoky atmospheric alleyway where the Jamaican druglord meets his doom. That guy was a scary enough villain by himself. When he refers to the Predator as a demon from hell who cannot be killed, his delivery is mesmerizing.

    Then there’s that subway scene. “It’s in the train!” Jerry Lambert’s last stand… great scene.

    The Glover/Predator bout was a tad overlong and not very memorable. They did establish that Glover only defeated the Predator by being EXTREMELY lucky! The inside of the Predator’s ship was pure B-movie escapism. Predator 2 may not be High Art, but everyone involved knew that. Instead, it’s “bad for you but utterly delicious” cinematic junk food of the best kind! An ultraviolent guilty pleasure (would love to see the NC-17 version!) and more enjoyable than the first… imo.

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