"Silent. Invisible. Invincible. He's in town with a few days to kill."

Has there ever a tagline cooler than this? I'm telling you, there hasn't.

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Long, long, long underrated Predator 2 seems to be finally getting the recognition and respect it deserves. Why all of a sudden? Because, when standing next to the extremely shit AvP, it looks like pure gold to those miserable cynics who disregarded it when it first came out because Arnie wasn't in it.

Fair enough, a Terminator, Conan or even Commando without Arnie just wouldn't work. But the seven-foot tall, Rastafarian, otherworldly hunter is the star of the film and this time round he gets much, much more screen time. We all know what Predator is, so director Stephen Hopkins shows off his ace, instead of hiding it up his sleeve.

The year is 1997 and the City of Angels is boiling under a 109-degree heat wave. Columbian and Jamaican drug lords have turned the streets into a war zone. The police are outmanned and outgunned and incompetent. The last thing they need to deal with is Predator.

The titular hunter has returned with an increased arsenal of weapons and is keen on slicing and dicing the aforementioned druggies for fun. During a brutal gun-battle on the streets, he watches Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover), a slightly crazed renegade cop, blow away half a dozen Columbian scumbags and chooses him as his ultimate prey. Naturally, Harrigan and his ethnically diverse team of cops have enough problems without having to worry about their skulls ending up in the Pred's intergalactic trophy cabinet.

Making matters worse is faux-DEA Agent Peter Keyes (Gary Busey), who pretends to be after the druggies, but is really more interested in swiping the Pred's advanced technology. Yeah, good luck with that!

There's also subtext of mankind's cruelty to other creatures (including humans). I assume the skinned bad guys hanging from the penthouse rafters don't enjoy it, just as the dead pigs in the meatpacking warehouse in the final act probably don't either. At one point Harrigan looks in the window of a hunting store and sees the frozen faces of many dead animals. Now he knows how they feel to not be at the top of the food chain.

From start to finish Predator 2 is brash, unsubtle, in-your-face, wall-to-wall action. A hectic, breathtaking succession of non-stop, increasingly exciting set pieces. The final 45 minutes will have you pissing yourself with excitement, I kid you not.

While Hopkins (fresh from his Nightmare On Elm Street 5 debut) has remained constantly employed, he's never really become a star director, which is a shame since he has a slick, cartoonish style and is far more talented than most other anonymous directors. Like John McTiernan in Predator, he provokes a dusty, sweaty and overbearingly hot atmosphere in the daytime scenes and an alien, gothic feel to night (pun intended). The way he captures LA on film just makes you NEVER want to go there.

Fans of Alan Silvestri's score of the first film can take comfort in the fact that all of his cool themes are back - they were rudely ditched from AvP - and more evolved. It's probably the most engaging score he's done. His Latin drums, sinister Hermann-esque strings, haunting urban sound effects and occultist voodoo chants dominate every scene and give each one its own unique voice.

But it ain't just that. Everything from set-design and cinematography to sound-design and film editing is nothing short of brilliant. If you think I'm overreacting just watch the film and see for yourself. There's nothing mass-produced, or conveyer-belt, about Predator 2. Twentieth Century Fox chucked loads of money at it to make it the most sophisticated sequel it could be. Everyone involved seems to have made a huge effort and done their absolute best.

It's sad that action films like this are not made anymore. Predator 2 is a classic, the kind of movie that feels torn straight from the pages of a Fifties pulp detective novel and crossed with a Twilight Zone episode. And it definitely earns the well-deserved Gator MacReady Claw of Approval.

Reviewed on: 16 May 2005
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The 7ft tall, otherworldy hunter comes to LA to slice and dice bad guys for fun.
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Director: Stephen Hopkins

Writer: Jim Thomas, John Thomas

Starring: Kevin Peter Hall, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Bill Paxton, Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Robert Davi, Morton Downey Jnr, Adam Baldwin, Kent McCord, Calvin Lockhart

Year: 1990

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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