A team of commandos are hunted one
by one in the jungle by an alien hunter.
Directed by John McTiernan
Written by Jim Thomas and John Thomas
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo,
Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves,
Shane Black, Kevin Peter Hall
Oscar Nominations - Best Visual Effects
Man believes himself to be the dominant species on earth but what about the universe? Are we so arrogant to think we’re the baddest kids on the intergalactic block? What if we were no more than a weekend hunting trip for something much more dangerous?
Our hero for this journey is Dutch (Schwarzenegger) an Army Major known for smokin’ stogies and getting the job done. He’s called up by a General to lead a team that will be sent to the Guatemalan jungle to extract a diplomat, easy day. What he comes to find out is that he was recruited by an old friend, Dillon (Weathers), specifically for his bulging biceps, I mean, expert leadership and tactics. His team is filled out by Billy Sole (Landham), an expert tracker, Mac Eliot (Duke), Hawkins (Black), a radio operator, Poncho (Chaves), explosives, and Blain Cooper (Ventura), sexual tyrannosaurus. They’re packing serious firepower and ready to kick ass but they are not prepared for what’s lurking in the jungle. The guerilla camp is discovered and destroyed quite easily but on their way there they made a grisly discovery: three skinned human corpses hanging upside down that belonged to Green Berets; one of whom Dutch knew but who did this to them? As they make their way towards a rendezvous point, with local woman Anna (Carrillo) in tow, they are picked off one by one. Anna tells them that “the jungle came alive” which confuses Dutch and his men. They think another team of mercenaries is behind this but they are dead wrong. POV shots clue the viewer in that there is something out there stalking them and even Billy is getting the sense that they are not alone. They are being hunted by an alien that goes from planet to planet hunting its indigenous species for sport, a Predator.
Much like Aliens did a year previous, this flick showers the audience with blood, bullet shells, and a few explosions thrown in for good measure or maybe it was a requirement in the 80s? It also has the ultimate man vs beast finale which sees Dutch prove that man is not such an easy target. There is even a metal band with a couple songs about Predator called Austrian Death Machine. They celebrate all of Arnie’s movies through thrash metal and even have a song titled ‘Get to the Choppa’, what’s not to love? Though the sequels to this film have not really captured the magic of the original (I do enjoy Predator 2), we do have a character in the Predator (which at one point was going to be played by Jean-Claude Van Damme and was later replaced by Kevin Peter Hall, who played Harry the sasquatch, from Harry and the Hendersons) that has become a pop culture icon. There have been comic books, the creature has been in Mortal Kombat, and its first video game: Predator: Hunting Ground that lets you hunt commandos as the titular creature. Not bad for a movie that took audiences by surprise in 1987 and made almost $100 million bucks, a true blockbuster.
Predator is one of the most epic movies ever made, and that's before the Predator even shows up. The insane cast of buff, badass soldiers sporting giant machine guns help make this 80's classic just the right amount of cheesy. But there are serious elements of horror, like the Predator's method of skinning his victims and blasting holes in their heads with a big space laser. This film brought an iconic sci-fi character into pop culture with the Predator, and none of the films that followed this one ever came close to capturing the same perfect blend of cheese, frights, and pure American badassery.
Our heroes are an elite band of commandos led by Dutch (Schwarzenegger). When they are sent into the jungles of South America to rescue a government agent, they encounter a vicious yet honorable hunter from outer space. The Predator hunts them down one by one, leading to some incredible action sequences and a host of memorable character deaths. And you care about every one of them. The camaraderie is believable, so much so that the death of each soldier is emotional.
Predator is one of my favorite Arnold roles, with a number of iconic lines and moments that stuck not just in my mind but in the pop culture community. As I said, the franchise regrettably peaked really quick, though two and three aren't bad. But Predator will always be an insanely fun watch that will last forever simply because it is just such an exciting movie that knows exactly what it is.