Catch up on part one right here!
- Men in Black II
The first Men in Black movie is a masterpiece. A intergalactic buddy cop movie with Will Smith at the height of his stardom and Tommy Lee Jones absolutely smashing the older mentor role – seriously, Gandalf and Obi Wan can get to fuck, I’m with Agent K. It’s a lean, mean, action machine with a memorable villain, great gags, and Linda Fiorentino as a brilliant example of the anti-love interest. A sequel was inevitable.
There is no reason to watch Men in Black II other than the reunion of Agents J and K. The story isn’t anywhere near as sparky; Lara Flynn Boyle tries her best with a femme fatale villain who is literally skin deep, and the injection of a proper love interest for J in Rosario Dawson’s Laura feels too traditional for such an anachronistic franchise.
All of which is to say that I still love this movie. As I said, the only reason to watch Men in Black II is the leading duo. Do you really need another reason that this deserves its place on this list?
2. Only God Forgives
Pretentious, pointless, needlessly violent, a lazy and ponderous Freudian nightmare, a vile glob of spit in the face of those who loved Drive – Only God Forgives is all of these things, and it’s also pretty good. As readers of this site undoubtedly know, I’m a big fan of Ryan Gosling. I think he is an incredibly talented actor and his performance in Nicholas Wingdin Refn’s Drive brought most people round to my way of thinking.
Only God Forgives is a follow-up to that success that strips away everything that made Drive a film. Gosling’s Julian the Driver look as expressive as Jim Carrey’s Riddler next to his character here, the supporting cast is made up of one deeply unappealing person after another, and the violence seemingly has no real point apart from to turn the stomach.
Yet I find Only God Forgives deeply hypnotic. Gosling’s Julian is so emotionally impotent that he he doesn’t feel human, much like the criminal underworld that consumes him and his deeply hateful family. It’s a brutal film, one where Refn pushes his own skills so that he and his film are teetering over the abyss. To me, that’s facsinating, though I hesitate to go there again.
3. Predator 2
The Predator franchise is known for having only one good film: the Arnie-starring original masterpiece. Since then there have been sequels, spinoffs, and beat-em-up movies with the Alien franchise’s Xenomorph. Most of these movie aren’t awful (except for Shane Black’s The Predator and AVP Requim, which are horrific): Predators is good though it is weighted down by a horrible miscast Adrien Brody, and I’ve defended the first Alien vs Predator movie here.
No Predator movie can come close to the original, but I think Predator 2 comes really close. This sequel, directed by Stephen Hopkins (the man responsible for the Matt LeBlanc version of Lost in Space: a movie so bad the Joey Tribiani would get a role), takes the ingredients of the first movie and switches things up. Instead of a muscle-bound Arnie-shaped killing machine, you have Danny Glover playing the kind of cop that makes you wonder if he just swapped Lethal Weapon scripts with Mel Gibson. Instead of a jungle, you have the urban jungle of Los Angeles. You also have Bill Paxton at his most Paxtonesque (coined that!).
Throw in a Predator, excellent stunt work, gorgeously horrid practical effects, and a fucking crazy Gary Busey (no, there isn’t any other kind) as the kind of government stooge that haunts Fox Mulder’s nightmares, and you have an awesome movie that I will always love.
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By Kevin Boyle
(header image via Youtube)