By: Garrett Collins
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves, and Shane Black
Predator is like a childhood friend you haven’t talked to in decades. The fact you haven’t revisited the enjoyment it gave you at one point in your life doesn’t really register until it shows up out of nowhere. No matter how long it has been since last revisiting Predator, the second I see that it is on TV prompts me to turn it on. The film is an utter joy to watch, and it is hard to not do a musical type sing along with each of its iconic lines. Its central premise of a completely capable insurgent team being hunted by an even more capable alien is a tremendous one, and if the ship flying by in its opening moments make you think you are about to be taken on a fun science fiction journey, you would be right. It’ll just take a bit longer than you remember.
The thing you have to remember when watching Predator is that people didn’t know what the actual title character looked like when entering the cinema in 1987. Director John McTiernan (Die Hard) distracts us from the Predator’s presence by showing Dutch (Schwarzenegger) take his team on a peculiar mission that involves taking out unnamed guerrillas. Sure there are teases at his infrared vision and clicking noise exclamations, but McTiernan does a nice job of decomposing his audience with the mission Dutch was sent on to begin with. A huge gun battle and an Ah-nold induced jeep crash later, Dutch’s team succeeds. Or do they? While ensuing scenes involving Dillon (Weathers) getting questioned by Dutch on what the real mission is felt tactile, I respected the entire scene’s ability at showing just how capable Dutch’s team is at kicking ass. So when they start getting taken out one by one by the Predator, we know they are in serious trouble.
All the grunts in Predator have unparalleled in any other action film personalities. Ventura looked overjoyed at spitting tobacco and proclaiming himself a ‘sexual tyrannosaur.’ Believe it or not, in a film that only has one woman in its cast, Ventura’s character of Blain is actually the center of the film’s most prolific relationship. The ‘bromance’ between him and Duke’s Mac is a well written one, and when Blain is violently taken out by the Predator, we feel for his death. Landham’s legitimate ‘tough guy’ reputation serves his character well, and Black’s woman privates joke spewing character of Hawkins is a nice precursor to the great screenwriter Black would eventually become.
In fact, unlike most horror films, all of the deaths in Predator are surprisingly hard-hitting. We may not be too close to Chaves’ character of Poncho. But when his death comes, its sound and visual accompaniment hits you like a buzz saw. This is the result of seamless direction, and combined with some brilliant uses of cinematography, Predator does a great job of making you feel like you are in the forest with these guys. There is never a cheesy pan out of the foliage that is in front of them. But all the way through the final battle, and especially when Dutch jumps in the water, Predator is a beautiful to look at film. It’s also nice to hear, as I completely proclaim the music in Predator to be composer Alan Silvestri’s second best score, next to only Back to the Future. The score to this film is very distinctive and catchy, and puts you in the perfect mood for the film’s war-themed proceedings.
In case you need any more incentive, I highly recommend checking out Predator. It is the perfect Friday night movie to plop down on your couch with some popcorn and watch. Yes, it is a pure testosterone rush, so I would exhort observing the film while the lady’s away. Sure, its existence is based solely on the success of Fox’s Alien franchise. But Predator is one of three major film franchises that made 20th Century Fox rule the 80s (with Star Wars and Alien being the others). Yes, there are some problems with the film’s dialogue at times. But this is a science fiction/horror film with personality. A completely subversive experience. Plus, how can you not stand up and cheer when Ah-nold goes mano a mano with the Predator in the film’s final thirty minutes?