If the first "Predator" was "Alien" meets "Rambo," it must be that "Predator 2" is intended to be "Alien" meets "Lethal Weapon" right down to the casting of Danny Glover in the lead.
"Predator" was an oddball film that made little sense, but it was carried along by its own sheer energy and the stylish directing debut of John McTiernan, who went on to do "Die Hard" and "The Hunt for Red October."
"Predator 2," on the other hand, is hyperactive, confusing and a victim of perhaps too much energy. There's plenty to do for those in charge of high-tech weaponry and stunts, but not much for the actors, short of a physical workout.
Like the first film, the second is replete with capable character actors in supporting roles, but here they are constantly swearing and/or screaming while wearing one of two expressions anger or fright.
Even Glover, one of the screen's most appealing "everyman" actors, with a commendable and uncommon range of roles in relatively few films, seems to be at sea here. He sweats and huffs and puffs and spits profanities freely, and when he has his showdown with the title character, he is convincingly frightened, confused and courageous all at once. But there's no depth to his character, as there was with his portrayals of the voice of reason in the two "Lethal Weapon" films.
For the uninitiated, the first "Predator" film introduced an offbeat alien as a hunter from space who makes trophies of human hides. Since he is a sportsman, he stalks primarily humans who carry weapons, not hard to find in 1997 Los Angeles, the setting for "Predator 2."
He is tall and husky, with a spacesuit that allows him invisibility at the push of a button, as well as myriad other features his local tailor apparently included. He wears dreadlocks and has an insect-looking face. And he's rather mean-spirited.
From the opening moments it's apparent that "Predator 2" will be loud and chaotic, but it becomes frenzied, with direction (by Australian Stephen Hopkins, "Nightmare on Elm Street 5") that is so hyper it becomes headache-inducing. The editing style is Music Video 101.
As for the script (by James and John Thomas, "Predator," "The Rescue"), it follows the "Predator" formula quite faithfully, but that's not a compliment. Aside from the aforementioned excessive profanity, there are the similar characters: The supporting player who tells vulgar jokes no one laughs at (Bill Paxton), the token woman on the team (Maria Conchita Alonso), the best buddy who will die early on (Ruben Blades) and the Fed who knows more than he's telling (Gary Busey). This time we also have Morton Downey Jr. as a wild-eyed, crusading tabloid TV journalist with a running TV commentary that owes something to "RoboCop."
The action sequences are so hectically directed that it's sometimes very hard to tell what is going on who's firing, who's getting hit, who's screaming? This is a movie made for VCR rewind buttons.
There is one clever moment, when we get a look inside the alien's spaceship and see a trophy wall where, quite distinctly, is a skeleton of the alien from "Alien." It's a funny, momentary gag. Would that the rest of the film were so inspired.
"Predator 2" is a real disappointment. It is rated R for considerable mayhem, gore, sex, nudity, profanity, vulgarity and drug use.