Movie Review : Predator (1987)
Predator needs no introduction. If you haven’t even accidentally watched this movie at least once in your life, you’re either an Amish or a bad person. It’s both an objectively great piece of filmmaking and a ridiculous, borderline nonsensical festival of unchecked testosterone. It already spawned three sequels and one suspicious crossover that are nowhere near as good as the original and there’s another one being released tomorrow called The Predator. A bar owner across the street from where I live thought it would be a great excuse to screen a 35mm of Predator to its patrons,so I went there to enjoy this movie for the tenth or twelfth time.
It’s an easy movie to follow: an army major named Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger, who else?) is tasked with rescuing hostages in the Central American jungle by the CIA, along with his team of elite commandos. Their handler Dillon (Carl Weathers), and old war buddy of Dutch, leads them to a Soviet camp, where they make everything explode but can’t find any hostages. Dillon admits to the deception and captures a prisoner (Elpidia Carillo) who immediately tries to escape. She’s stopped by Hawkins (Shane Black) who is murdered by an invisible being that materialized right under her eyes. There’s a thing hunting Dutch’s team in the jungle and it is not from this world.
That’s it, there’s an alien in the woods and it’s hunting a team of elite soldiers for sport. While it is mostly remembered for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers’ manliest handshake in history of cinema and awesome lines such as “if it bleeds, we can kill it”, Predator is a movie that can be enjoyed non-ironically.
It’s a legit genre bending film that blends elements of war movies, horror and science fiction to create something groundbreaking. People often forget it (I sure it before this week), but the last twenty minutes of this movie are completely wordless and consist in a feral confrontation between Arnold and the titular predator. I’ve seen movies that began without dialogue, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen another movie that ends with feral grunts and pompous soundtrack.
But craft isn’t why Predator is still so fondly remembered today. It became a cult movie for its crazy and over-the-top depictions of masculinity. The men of Predator are swole, oily and pathologically competitive. They turn handshakes into arm wrestling, confrontation into symphonies of violence and things as simple as gun holding into a flexing competition. They’re angry, petty and 100% adorable.
Most important, they’re removed enough from any relatable reality to not be taken seriously. Arnold and his buddies are military archetypes that have no use in contemporary society. If you aren’t trying to survive against and unknown force in the jungle, you wouldn’t want to be these guys or act like them. That’s why the movie begins and ends in the jungle.
I fucking love Predator. It’s silly, violent and spiked with an insane amount of testosterone. To be honest, I don’t know why movie studios bother making self-serious sequels to it, because nothing will ever top this twilight zone of manliness. The creature itself is cool, but it’ll never be as cool as oiled up Arnold and Carl Weathers. I’ll probably end up seeing The Predator in theaters because it was written and directed by Shane Black, who not only starred in the original, but who’s a talented writer and director in his own right. But it might suck and if it does, we’ll always have Predator to fall back on. This movie simply doesn’t get old and it’ll always be there for us.