The film received negative reviews, despite gaining a moderate return at the box office grossing $57 million worldwide, and it was considered a disappointment compared to the previous film's $98 million gross on a smaller production budget. It has since become a cult film among fans. A sequel followed 20 years later in 2010.
In 1997, Los Angeles is suffering from both a heat wave and a turf war between heavily armed Colombian and Jamaican drug cartels. A Predator watches a shootout between the police and Colombians, observing as Lieutenant Michael R. Harrigan charges into the firefight to rescue two wounded officers and drive the Colombians back into their hideout.
The Predator assaults the Colombians, causing a disturbance that prompts Harrigan and his police detectives Leona Cantrell and Danny Archuleta to defy orders and enter the hideout. They find the Colombians have been slaughtered. Harrigan pursues the crazed gang leader onto the roof and shoots him in self-defense, believing him to be attacking Harrigan, when the latter panickedly opens fire at the camouflaged Predator. Harrigan himself catches a glimpse of the alien, but dismisses it as an effect of the extreme heat and his acrophobia. At the station, Harrigan is reprimanded by his superiors for his defiance. He is introduced to Special Agent Peter Keyes, leader of the task force investigating the cartels, and Detective Jerry Lambert, the newest member of Harrigan's team.
Later that evening, several Jamaican cartel members storm the Colombian drug lord's penthouse. After they ritualistically murder him, they are slaughtered by the Predator. Harrigan's team enter the penthouse where they find the Jamaicans' skinned corpses suspended from the rafters, noting the similarity to the earlier Colombian massacre. Keyes arrives and kicks Harrigan's team out. Archuleta later returns to continue investigating. After he finds one of the Predator's speartip weapons in an air conditioning vent, the lurking Predator kills him. Harrigan vows to bring down Danny's killer, believing they are dealing with an assassin. Forensic analysis reveals the speartip is not composed of any known element on the periodic table. Seeking answers, Harrigan meets with Jamaican drug lord King Willie, a voodoo practitioner, in an alley. King Willie tells Harrigan that the killer is supernatural, and that he should prepare himself for battle against him. Harrigan, even more puzzled, leaves before the Predator kills King Willie, taking his head as a trophy. For Harrigan's persistence, the Predator begins to mark him as his ultimate hunting challenge.
Tracing a lead indicating Danny's killer had recently been in a slaughterhouse, Harrigan arranges to meet his team at a warehouse district to investigate. Cantrell and Lambert take the subway to the rendezvous when the Predator, hunting Harrigan's subordinates, suddenly attacks during a standoff between a gang and a group of vigilantes. The Predator kills the gang and multiple vigilantes; Lambert faces off against the Predator and is killed. Cantrell is spared after the Predator's scan of her body reveals that she is pregnant. Arriving on the scene to find numerous armed civilians dead in addition to Lambert, Harrigan chases the fleeing Predator but is intercepted by Keyes' men. Keyes reveals that the killer is an extraterrestrial hunter with infrared vision that uses active camouflage and has been hunting humans for sport throughout armed conflicts, most recently in Central America. Keyes and his team have set a trap in a nearby slaughterhouse, using thermally insulated suits and cryogenic weapons to capture it for study.
When the Predator arrives, the trap is sprung. However, the Predator uses its mask to scan through various electromagnetic wavelengths to identify the light from the team's torches. It easily outmaneuvers and slaughters the men before heavily wounding Keyes. Harrigan then attacks the Predator, badly wounding it before it rallies, destroys his weapon and closes in. Harrigan is saved by the sudden reappearance of Keyes, who tries to incapacitate the alien but is killed by its throwing disc. The Predator chases Harrigan to a roof and the two foes clash, leaving them hanging from a ledge. The alien activates a self-destruct device on its forearm which Harrigan then severs using the throwing disc, rendering the device harmless. The Predator falls through an apartment window, treats its wounds and flees through the building.
Harrigan follows it down an elevator shaft and finds a spacecraft in an underground chamber. Inside the ship, after Harrigan briefly glimpses a trophy room with various skulls (including a Xenomorph), he and the Predator face off in a final duel ending when Harrigan finally kills the Predator using its throwing disc. Several other Predators suddenly appear, collecting their dead comrade, and one of them presents Harrigan with an antique flintlock pistol as a trophy. Harrigan escapes from the ship as it takes off. He reaches the surface just as the remainder of Keyes' team arrives. As Keyes' subordinate Garber curses their lost opportunity to capture the alien, Harrigan privately muses that the creatures will return.Kevin Peter Hall as The Predator, a member of a warrior race which hunts aggressive members of other species for sport, uses active camouflage, a plasma weapon and can see in the infrared spectrum.
Danny Glover as Lieutenant Michael "Mike" R. Harrigan, an LAPD officer, who is investigating rival Jamaican and Colombian drug cartels. He is very stubborn and often is criticized by the superior officers for not obeying orders.
Gary Busey as Special Agent Peter Keyes, posed as a DEA agent leading a special task force investigating a drug conspiracy as a cover for his attempts to capture the Predator.
Ruben Blades as Detective Danny Archuleta, a member of Harrigan's team and a long time friend of his.
María Conchita Alonso as Detective Leona Cantrell, an LAPD cop involved in the Jamaican-Colombian gang wars.
Bill Paxton as Detective Jerry Lambert, an LAPD cop, transferred from another precinct into Metro Command. His role is often that of comic relief.
Lilyan Chauvin as Dr. Irene Richards, the chief medical examiner and forensic pathologist of Los Angeles. She aids Harrigan, in spite of being completely cut out of the official investigation by Keyes' team.
Robert Davi as Deputy Chief Phil Heinemann.
Adam Baldwin as Garber, a member of Keyes' task force.
Kent McCord as Captain B. Pilgrim, an LAPD cop and Harrigan's immediate boss.
Morton Downey, Jr. as Tony Pope, a journalist who reports the gruesome and murderous homicides left by the Predator. He is constantly criticized by the police for interfering with investigations.
Calvin Lockhart as King Willie, the boss of the Jamaica Voodoo Posse. He appears to be psychic because of his voodoo beliefs.
Elpidia Carrillo reprises her role as Anna Gonsalves from the first film in a cameo appearance. She is seen aiding government agents in a video tape, showing the devastating after-effects of the Predator's self-destruct device to the U.S. Army. Carrillo filmed an additional scene in which she talks to the camera and describes the events of the first film, but this scene was cut.
Due to a dispute over salary, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who starred as "Dutch" in the 1987 film, declined to return to the sequel.
In Predator 2, the main Predator was designed to look more urban and hip than its predecessor. Design changes included tribal ornamentation on the forehead, which was made steeper and shallower, brighter skin coloration and a greater number of fangs. Describing the new Predator's design, Stan Winston said, "Broad concept's the same. The difference is, this is a different individual. A different individual of the same species. As in a snake is a snake, but different snakes are different. Their colorings are different, different parts of their characteristics, their facial structures, subtle differences." The MPAA initially gave Predator 2 an NC-17 rating, so several cuts were made to bring it down to an R rating.
The film received mostly negative reviews, though reviewers were generally impressed by the casting of Danny Glover as an action hero. The reviewers for The Washington Post were split: Rita Kempley enjoyed the film, saying she felt that it had "the dismal irony of RoboCop and the brooding fatalism of Blade Runner", and felt Glover "brings an unusual depth to the action adventure and proves fiercely effective as the Predator's new nemesis." Desson Howe felt the film was "blithely unoriginal" and numbingly violent, but also praised Glover's ability to bring warmth to the center of a cold film.
In her review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin called the film "an unbeatable contender" for the "most mindless, mean-spirited action film of the holiday season". Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert, in giving the film two out of four stars, suggested that it represents an "angry and ugly" dream. He also felt that the creatures' design had racist undertones where "subliminal clues [...] encourage us to subconsciously connect the menace with black males."
Although it had negative reviews, Predator 2 is seen as a cult classic among fans.
Released on November 21, 1990, Predator 2 was #4 at the US box office in its opening weekend, with a gross of over $8 million behind the films Dances with Wolves, Three Men and a Little Lady, and Home Alone. The film grossed a total of $57 million, $30 million of which was from the USA. The worldwide box office revenue totaled $57,120,318 in ticket sales.
A novelization of the film written by Simon Hawke was released on December 1, 1990 by the publishing company Jove. The novelization provided a small amount of information regarding the fate of "Dutch" from the first film. Keyes recalls memories of speaking with the battered Major while infirmed in a hospital, suffering from radiation sickness. "Dutch" is said to have escaped from the hospital, never to be seen again. Furthermore, the novel tells a great deal of the story from the Predator's point of view, such as its humiliation of having its mask removed by Harrigan, and its reasoning for not killing Cantrell due to its discovery of her pregnancy.
Alan Silvestri returned to score the sequel, conducting the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra. Whereas the first film did not have its music released until years later, a soundtrack album for the sequel was issued on December 11, 1990 from Varese Sarabande. On December 1, 2014, the label issued Predator 2: The Deluxe Edition.
Predator 2 was released on VHS in 1991, on DVD in 2003, a two-disc special edition in January 2005, and on Blu-ray on June 9, 2009, in North America.
A video game adaptation of the film was released for the Sega Genesis console in 1992. The game was published by Acclaim through its Arena Entertainment label and developed by Teeny Weeny Games, Ltd. In the game players guide Lt. Mike Harrigan as he tracks the Predator through seven levels based on the film, while facing several drug gangs and rescuing civilian hostages before they fall prey to the alien hunter. The game is played in a top-down perspective simulating a third person isometric view, with swarms of enemies who appear through one-way doors scattered throughout the levels.
Lt. Harrigan also has to contend with the Predator, both as a boss at the end of each level, and as a time limit. If the player takes too long to rescue a hostage, the Predator will blast the hostage with his tri-laser. If too many hostages are killed - the number depending on the difficulty setting - the game ends and the screen fades to red with the words "You lost too many hostages".
Weapons include pistols, machine guns, shotguns and also a few highly advanced Predator weapons like the net, the disc and the spear that the player can pick up and use. Each defeated gang member drops drugs that can be picked up and automatically sent off to the drug squad for points. No sounds or music from the film were used, but still scenes from the film do introduce the levels, which include the streets of L.A., the rooftops, the main city subway, the slaughterhouse district and the predator ship. Mega gave the game a negative score of 28%.