Deep in the South American jungle a group of American commandos is dropped off to go on a rescue mission. They consist of people like Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura and are led by Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the jungle they quickly find out that there’s something hunting them as they are picked of one by one. How do you stop something that is seemingly invisible?
Predator is classic action movie and in my book one of the most enjoyable movies ever made. The best way to watch it, if that is still possible, is totally blank. If you don’t know what they’re up against this movie has something extra. The only true mistake this movie makes is during the opening credits in which we see how a space ship releases something that’s heading for Earth. If they had left that out, the revelation of the opponent being an alien would have been even greater.
During their rescue mission these commandos find the previous team that went in hanging upside down up high the trees, their flesh skinned off and immediately know there’s something wrong. They come across a guerrilla base whom they hold responsible for the massacre. After destorying the base they head back to the chopper, or “choppa” as Arnold pronounces it. Suddenly they find themselves being hunted by something that can’t be seen. Like a slasher something picks these commandos off one by one. How do you defend yourself against something which you can’t see?
Director John McTiernan uses the Steven Spielberg approach with his monster. Slowly building up to a total reveal. At first we just see things from the creature’s point of view, then a close-up of his hand, a quick glimpse here, a malfunctioning invisibility cloak glitch there. The audience knows only a little more than the people on screen which is very effective. When the creature finally is revealed in the iconic scene where Dutch is washed up on shore covered in clay it creates a connection between the audience and Dutch because this is the first time we both actually get a really good look at what is after them.
Even after almost 30 years the effects in Predator hold up pretty well. Almost all of them are practical, adding to the realism. The creature is probably the movie’s most successful effect. Despite it being a guy in a suit the Predator has become one of the most iconic creatures to grace the screen. The dreadlocks, the mask, the weaponry and of course the face with the mandibles and all. Even the invisibility effect holds up, though nowadays it’s done much more smoothly.
Predator’s main cast consists almost exclusively out of muscular men. It should come as no surprise that the testosterone basically drips from the screen. Big men flexing their sweaty muscles and wielding enormous guns. As with most of Arnold’s 80’s movies the homo-erotic undertones are all over the place. It’s also fun to see Carl weathers pop up in this as well as Arnold-movie-veterans Bill Duke and Jesse Ventura. Up until The Expendables Predator was the closest we got to a team-up.
The script is chock full of memorable quotes, most of them uttered by Arnold, though who can forget Jesse Ventura’s classic line: “This stuff will make you a god damned sexual Tyrannosaurus, just like me.” ? It’s what makes Predator so much fun. This is a comic book B-movie which somehow received an A-movie treatment and it works brilliantly.
Predator might be one of the best action movies ever made. It’s premise is as simple as it is ingenious: pit a couple of hard-as-nails commandos led by Arnold Schwarzenegger against an invisible killer deep in the jungle. This could have been a schlocky movie, but here everything fits right into place. Predator makes only small missteps which are forgiven and this is one of those rare movies I can watch over and over again.