Predator 2 [1990]

Predator:Rambo meets Alien in this terrific science-fiction thriller from 1987, directed by John McTiernan just a year before Die Hard made him Hollywood's most sought-after director of action-packed blockbusters. Arnold Schwarzenegger leads an elite squad of U.S. Army commandos to a remote region of South American jungle, where they've been assigned to search for South American officials who've been kidnapped by terrorists. Instead they find a bunch of skinned corpses hanging from the trees and realize that they're now facing a mysterious and much deadlier threat. As the squad is picked off one by one, Arnold finds himself pitted against a hideous alien creature that's heavily armed and wearing a spacesuit enabling the creature to render itself invisible. The title says it all in describing the relentless, escalating action that follows, maintained by McTiernan with an abundance of visual flair. The film's special effects are still impressive, and stunning locations in the Mexican jungles create a combined atmosphere of verdant beauty and imminent danger. The plot doesn't hold up to much scrutiny, but the movie's so exciting and tightly paced that its weaknesses seem irrelevant. --Jeff Shannon Predator 2: Predator wreaked havoc in the jungle and struck box-office gold, so Hollywood logic dictated that Predator 2 should raise hell in the big, bad city. Los Angeles, to be specific, and this near-future L.A. (circa 1997) is an ultra-violent playground for the invisibility-cloaked alien that hunted Arnold Schwarzenegger in the previous film. Scant explanation is given for the creature's return, and because Ah-nuld was busy making Total Recall, Danny Glover was awkwardly installed as the maverick cop (is there any other kind?) who defies a government goon (Gary Busey) to curtail the alien's inner-city killing spree. But why bother, when the victims are scummy Colombian drug lords? Don't look for intelligent answers; director Stephen Hopkins favors wall-to-wall action over sensible plotting, allowing Stan Winston's more prominently featured Predator to join the ranks of iconic movie monsters. And anticipating Alien vs. Predator in comic books and in theaters, there's a familiar-looking skull in the Predator's trophy case! --Jeff Shannon

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