Blade teams up with his former enemy to take on a new and more dangerous threat.
Directed by Guillermo Del Toro
Starring Wesley Snipes, Luke Goss, and Kris Kristofferson
Review by Jon Kissel
Future superhero films, for all their flaws and their monopolistic impact on the industry and the culture, will treat their characters as the sums of their actions and decisions, thus evolving over time. Blade 2 will not, but what it will do is concoct some antagonists far more memorable than anything from the original. Blade’s getting it from both sides this time, with the double-crossing vampires in one corner and the ravenous, mutant reapers in the other. The vampires, formed into an elite Blade-killing squad run by a moist patriarch, are jokes who think they’re Neo. There is so much black leather in this film, plus speed-ramping, plus fuzzy CGI shots deep in the uncanny valley that foreshadow the Matrix sequels. They’re campy figures of fun that are so absurd that they go all the way around from distractions to assets. Early 2000’s techno-rap seals the deal. The reapers, conversely, need no excuses made for them. Del Toro is doing his best work with their every considered detail, from their horrific anatomy to their alien gait. They’re the weirdest, most eccentric creation to come out of any superhero film and they single-handedly justify all of Blade 2’s lazy choices and shortcuts.
The Blood Pack is Blade 2 not realizing it has the potential to be funny and being funny anyway. If Del Toro and returning writer David S. Goyer tried to make their film funny, they could’ve wildly succeeded. This world creates Blade as this stoic figure of vengeance and doesn’t realize that he’s a perfect straight man, a board to bounce jokes off of. Snipes is having much more fun in the sequel compared to the original, but the film is still not taking full advantage of the possibilities. It’s implied that Blade will smoke weed with Norman Reedus’ Scud from time to time. Show it! How about a little frustration for Blade when all of his silver bullets are wildly sprayed to no effect? That torture table with all the remote probes, which Whistler somehow knows how to operate, could have generated a lot of dark comedy. I’m certainly not asking for MCU quips, but some lightening would have been of considerable benefit.
Blade 2 is deeply flawed but this is as good as the franchise is going to get. Even with hoary tropes like the bite victim who hides his injury (way to go, Lighthammer) and characters speaking to each other about stuff they already know, Del Toro’s vision is strong enough to leaven Goyer’s oft-hacky script. The reapers, themselves a combination of Predators and Aliens, are going to spawn a mass of imitators until mouth flaps and hidden tongues become de rigeur across monster movies. Blade 2 has a significant level of imagination, but not enough to break out of its genre trappings or even ascend to its genre’s highest levels. B-