Back when simple was appreciated, and brawn ruled over brains, John McTiernan’s “Predator” was king. I am talking, of course, about the ’80s, when patriotism wasn’t a 4-letter word and Hollywood was still trying to please the moviegoing public first instead of showing off their ideologically driven “movies with messages.” Back then it was all about pleasing the audience, and oh my did “Predator” please.
Generally considered one of the finest Guy Movie ever, “Predator” is 100 minutes of testosterone, machismo, and sheer firepower. With those kinds of foundation, it’s no wonder there’s not much room for anything else. The plot is only important in order to send Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his small band of rugged commandos into a South American jungle, where they battle guerillas and a lone alien creature called the predator (actually the alien has no name and his species is never identified).
Sent into the jungle to rescue the crew of a down American helicopter, Dutch and his men discovers something even more dangerous waiting for them. The predator has come from far away, an alien creature with advance weaponry and the ability to become invisible. The predator is the perfect killing machine, and it lives only to hunt for the sport of it. The South American jungles has become its favorite hunting place because of the humidity and the plenty game, and according to a local, it has been coming back for quite some time to collect trophies.
After slaughtering their way through the guerilla village, Dutch and his men become the hunted, with the predator in hot pursuit. Among Dutch’s men, there’s the stoic Mac (Bill Duke) and the tobacco chewing (and future Minnesota Governor) Jesse Ventura. Ventura plays Blain, who utters the movie’s most memorable one-liner; when informed by one of his colleagues that he’s bleeding, Blain retorts: “I ain’t got time to bleed.” Wielding a minigun of astounding power, Blain is eventually dispatched by a laser shot to the gut that spills, well, his guts.
As violent and wild and completely out of control as they come, “Predator” has little to offer besides its brawn and bullets. Written by Jim and John Thomas (“Behind Enemy Lines”), the screenplay has little time for something as mundane as character development. Instead we get the usual stereotypes, including a Native American tracker (Sonny Landham) and a untrustworthy CIA spook (Carl Weathers). Even Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch is essentially the same character he plays in many of his ’80s films, including “Commando” and “The Running Man”.
Also notable is the appearance of screenwriter Shane Black, who plays the smartass Hawkins. Black would go on to write “Lethal Weapon” and numerous other actioners known as much for their tongue-in-cheek one-liners as their wild explosions and action. Elpidia Caririllo is Anna, the local girl who finds her fortunes connected to the survival of Dutch’s team. There’s no need to look beyond the surface of “Predator” because there isn’t anything to find. The film is what it is, and it is a damn fine piece of action, and one of the finest examples of a Guy Movie, ever.
John McTiernan (director) / Jim Thomas, John Thomas (screenplay)
CAST: Arnold Schwarzenegger …. Dutch
Carl Weathers …. Dillon
Elpidia Carrillo …. Anna
Bill Duke …. Mac
Jesse Ventura …. Blain