The World According to Arnie – Predator (1987)
Amazingly, it’s been over a year since my last foray into the rollercoaster career of one Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger. For those out there who truly appreciate laziness, this one’s for the books. Since the ‘Raw Deal’ review was published, a lot has changed for Arnie. He’s no longer Governor of California, his wife divorced him because he was diddling the help, and his acting career is getting back up and running with an expanded role in 2012’s The Expendables 2, as well as his true comeback film, 2013’s The Last Stand.
What’s most surprising about the downtime between reviews is that I successfully navigated the stormy waters of Arnie’s dreadful early career, reached the pinnacle, the golden age if you will, and I stopped!? Does that signal an unconscious desire to hurt myself? Or just a steely commitment to procrastination? Anyhoo, the Austrian Oak’s golden age began with The Terminator and Commando, then came a slight hiccup with the not very good Raw Deal. But hence forth there be a brilliant streak previously unmatched by man or beast, featuring some of Arnie’s very best films.
Not one to do things by halves, Arnie kicks off his impressive streak with what is arguably his most awesome film. A little ditty called ‘Predator’, which is so astonishingly awesome that I can guarantee I’ll run out of superlatives approximately three paragraphs into this review and just repeatedly describe everything as awesome.
What do Ultimate Killing Machines like? A stinking hot climate! And when do Ultimate Killing Machines like it? Now! As it just so happens, the jungles of Guatemala are a stinking hot place, and make a perfect venue for intergalactic fisticuffs between two of the baddest, meanest and toughest bastards this universe has to offer. When Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer (Arnie) and his elite team of professional murderers first enter the jungle on a rescue mission, as far as they know, they’re the top of the food chain. The most fearsome killers on the planet. But little do they know what’s lurking in the trees. It seems this particular jungle, at this particular time of year is a rather exclusive vacation spot for an alien race who have one hobby and one hobby only. Hunting. They’re the inbred hillbilly’s of the universe. One such alien has come here for a spot of hunting, and takes a shine to Dutch and his crew. But the alien’s a bit of a prick, and doesn’t play fair. He has camouflage technology, heat sensing vision and some pretty impressive dreadlocks. He’s also over 7 feet tall and bleeds fluorescent green blood, which Dutch cottons on to instantly. “If it bleeds, we can kill it.” You bet you can, mate.
Predator is flat knackers AWESOME. I first saw this when I was about 10 years old (thanks, Dad!) and while the Predator himself scared the bejeezus out of me, particularly when he removed his helmet, Arnie was there to wallop him with his fists of fury then drop a tree on him. No one beats Arnie, not even an ugly motherfucker from outer space. I remember quoting the movie with my sister “I ain’t got time to bleed.”, drawing cartoons of Arnie boxing the Predators head, and watching the movie more times than what can truly be healthy for a pre-teen. I loved it.
Watching the film today, my opinion of it hasn’t changed one iota. Sure some of the effects are clunky by today’s standards, but apart from that, it holds up and then some. The film is structured like a well-oiled machine. As the film opens, the helicopter carrying Arnie and his elite team of asskickers touches down on a remote beach in Guatemala. There’s a quick scene introducing Dillon, complete with what at first glance is a hilariously gratuitous bicep shot. But this shot and the interactions between the two characters tells us a hell of a lot in no time at all. It’s brilliantly efficient exposition. “What’s the matter? The CIA got you pushing too many pencils?” It’s amazing how much just this short exchange conveys. From it we immediately know there’s a history between these two, and just a little animosity. It can be assumed that Dillon and Dutch served together, they were friends and Dillon gave up active duty for a government job. And being the CIA, probably isn’t to be trusted. The foundations are laid for some drama later in the film, even a bit of a character arc for Dillon, and the characters are fleshed out a little. All in one line and two flexes of ridiculously huge biceps. Terrific, efficient action film writing.
That brief scene over, we’re back on the helicopter and on our way. We briefly meet the team, with each given a moment that establishes their personality. The loudmouth, the joker, the strong, silent type and of course, the guy so tough he dry shaves and snaps the razer off on his face. Nothing says “Don’t fuck with me.” like a guy dry shaving. Once they’re on the ground, it’s nearly all action thriller mode. John McTiernan, who only had one low budget film under his belt at the time, handles it perfectly. There is no fat on this beast. ‘Predator’ rattles along at speed for nearly the entire running time, as the mission go’s south and the hunters become the hunted. There are brief moments of reflection, and I do mean brief. Mac (Bill Duke) is saying a heartfelt goodbye to a fallen comrade when a GIANT PIG bursts through the perimeter and decides to repeatedly run belly first into his knife. But the pace only stops momentarily. Otherwise the film is all thrillingly paced action.
‘Predator’ is stuffed full of tough guys. Jesse Ventura, Bill Duke, Carl Weathers and Sonny Landham, who reportedly required a body guard to provide protection for anyone who wasn’t Sonny. According to Arnie, it was his idea to have the film follow a team of commando’s instead of the original script’s story that pitted a lone human against the alien. This change is imperative to the films success.
The supporting cast of characters, also including ‘Lethal Weapon’ screenwriter Shane Black, Richard Chaves and Elpidia Carrillo, add much needed colour to the film. Their interactions, such as self-proclaimed “sexual tyrannosaurus” Blain (Ventura) calling everyone “slack-jawed faggots”, or Hawkins (Black) having to explain his lewd jokes to Billy (Landham), give the film some much needed character. They’re also important to giving the story weight. In the early action scene where the team rescue some hostages, we see the efficiency of their killing ability. These guys are deadly hombres and it would take One Tough Bastard to defeat them. The fact that the Predator knocks them off one by one for kicks shows us just how superior he is as a hunter. Not that he plays fair, with all his techo gadgetry. So when Dutch faces him mano a mano at the finale, he’s seemingly outmatched and must use all his buttkicking skill, and a dirty tricks campaign, to come out victorious. And even when he does so, knocking the Predator on the head once and for all, he then has to outrun a nuke! Giant interstellar asshole!
Everything clicks into place for Arnie here. The writing, by Jim and John Thomas, is spot on, the score by Alan Silvestri is muscular, the cinematography by Donald McAlpine captures the encompassing, suffocating nature of the jungle, and Stan Winston’s creature design (with input by James Cameron) makes the alien baddie a unique and memorable villain. ‘Predator’ is so much fun, and so enjoyable every time I watch it, that it’s tied for first as my favourite Arnie movie, alongside ‘The Terminator’. This movie is AWESOME.
Apologies for all the pics. Just wanted to get all the character shots in.
I never thought of the Predator as an interstellar hillbilly. I always saw him as a great white hunter type. Hell, he’s probably a film director on his planet – he’s an alien John Huston looking to kill the most dangerous game in the cosmos.
Yeah, I was joking.
I was too. Kind of.
Aren’t you up for the directing gig on AvWotM?
I hear I’m in the running.
Intergalactic hillbillies? I think that’s what the Critters were. Alien trailertrash escaped cons.
This might be McTiernan’s best movie. Probably Arnold’s second best next to Terminator.
The sequel sucked though.I liked the change of scenery, but Glover wasn’t a good fit for the role and the director was a point and shoot studio-appointed hack.
It’s definitely McT’s best film. Although I love Hunt for Red October and Die Hard, this one pips them.
My biggest problem with the sequel is that it’s quite mean spirited, and crass. I get what they were going for, but all the swearing, Conchita-Alonso crunching Paxtons nuts, the jamaican gang etc. Just took a lot of the fun out of it.
I like the sequel.
It has THE BUSEY. Making shit better, just by being there.
The sequel’s okay. And Busey does make it better. But I just wish all the characters weren’t so unpleasant. There’s some great scenes in the film. It’s just bad character writing that brings it down.
It’s odd, because the best written two characters are the cop that finds the Predator’s weapon in the apartment (it’s a good performance as well), and the pregnant woman the predator lets off. The rest of them are either unpleasant, gimmicky or single-dimensional.
Still, I really rate the urban jungle idea. I just wish they’d cast someone not fat and old like Glover.
Maria Conchita Alonso is the pregnant woman. I really liked her as an actress. A good screen presence. I can’t think of her in very many films though. Apart from The Running Man of course. Ruben Blades is the other cop you’re talking about I think. Another good actor.
Glover wasn’t well cast, I agree. Needed someone younger. 35-40 years old. I’m trying to think of actors around that age at the time. Kurt?
Genuinely. Although he was probably too old. Mel leaps to mind.
Glover was just too fat to fight an intergalactic space bastard.
Yeah, the problem with that is Sly never would’ve done it. He and Arnie had a rivalry, and Sly would never have done the sequel to a major Arnie film. And vice versa.
It’s a nice idea though.
Obviously they rewrote it substantially. They never would’ve killed the Arnie character.
Glover was just too fat? HUH? What the fuck? He’s in awesome shape in that movie? Also he’s like 6’3″ or something he’s a pretty big dude. Glover’s never really been fat? Old sure, but I thought he did a great job in Predator 2. I think it’s a damn good sequel.
Also, I thought that the Predator didn’t kill her because she was pregnant was a really interesting development, and hinted at a more interesting, thought out film than the one that was released.
I don’t like the sequel.
I don’t believe for a second Glover could take on the Predator. Paxton is annoying as hell in it, such a downgrade in characters from original to sequel. Surprised the Predators at the end didn’t give him a mark like the chick received in the first AvP movie. Ugh…
At least the sequel is better than that recent Rodriguez shitfest. What a load of charmless rip off garbage that was.
Forgot to watch that when lovefilm sent it. Accidentally returned it instead.
See I buy the team in Predator 2. I think what the actual Predator creature is, is a misconception. It’s not some cockroach like thing like the Alien, the way the Alien creature is, is more insect like in the way it acts, behaves and reasons. While the Predator is pretty much human, it lives for the hunt, so in Predator 2 it wants to hunt a cop on his own turf. It’s not just the ultimate killing machine like the Alien, it reasons and that’s why it can be beat and fought buy a more normal person, not just some roided up freak.
Yes, the Predator is a hunter. But he’s the ultimate hunter, who should be facing off against the ultimate foe. Not some old man who runs in a loping shuffle.
It was always going to be a problem with any Predator sequel. In the original, Arnie’s basically the toughest bastard earth has to offer, and he’s physically outmatched by the Predator. He has to use guerilla style tactics to knock him off. So pitting a Predator against someone who doesn’t have Dutch’s military training, combat skills and tactical know how makes it difficult to believe. That’s before you even get to the fact that he looks like an out of shape old man.
I dunno, guess I’d say it’s pretty comparable to the Rodriquez one…I have no desire to revisit either one.
And to add to Droid’s point about the Predator being the ultimate hunter, at least Rodriquez gathered above average prey for the Predator to hunt. He failed to gather a bunch of bad asses like Arnie’s group, but it was better than what the Predator hunted in number two.
I really didn’t like the new one. It’s one of those “referential” sequels, like Supes Returns, that spends so much time reminding us of the great film it’s a sequel to that it forgets to forge a new path and create something interesting.
Well there are different levels of Predator’s, the Predators in 2 could be teenagers? You never know?
Also maybe the urban jungle setting threw the Predator for a loop? I bought Glover in that role, and the movie holds up very well, they both do.
I like it, as a whole.
No hate for Predator 2 from me.
Didn’t you say you didn’t like Glover?
Predator 2 as a whole is okay. It’s just not anywhere near as good as the original.
I think it’s implied that the Predator chooses places that feature a combination of extreme heat and violence. So I would assume the Predator knew what he was doing when he turned up in LA.
Well like I said it could’ve been a younger Predator, I mean why where they watching over him? It could’ve been a test. While in Predator 1 he was just on vacation since he was an older more seasoned hunter. In predator 2 he could’ve just been a baby going out on his first hunt, and that’s why it was so ceremonious when he was killed.
Heheh that’s funny then if they choose places of extreme heat, then why is AVP set in the Arctic?
Yep. The first thing I thought of when I saw where it was set. Just another reason why AvP is complete shit.
also nicely done using the end credits for pics. And hooray, one down, and one closer to Jarv having to watch Zac Efron trying to help Michelle Pfeiffer cross things off her bucket list.
The movie McTiernan made before Predator was this one:
It’s actually kind of decent, but I’m not sure how it proved him capable of Predator outside the excellent direction.
Well fucking done Droid. The sprint is on! I want Jarv to openly weep in the theater as the lights go down and the words “New Year’s Eve” flash on the screen. Oh the joyous season of giving!
Predator is FUCKING AWESOME, simply put. A fucking brilliant action movie. It most defnitely holds up.
I can’t wait for him to see the Robert DeNiro plot. It’s like watching that actor’s career literally experience the final sputtering death throes onscreen.
Oh, the joy!
It sure does, pillows.
I’ve accepted the mission, just got to ensure I get it accomplished!
That’s a great poster.
No, you shouldn’t be too worried. Yet. Let’s see how I get on with this next review. Which is The Running Man, which luckily we watched earlier this year, so it’s nice and fresh (if a bit booze addled).
I like the poster too. Could’ve spent a bit longer doing it, but couldn’t be arsed fucking around with photoshop any longer.
The Arnie series is easy up to Twins.
It’s the other ones, that I reckon you’ll struggle more with.
I was looking at my number one review on the weekend. I’ve written over 1200 words on it. And I think there’s about one or two more subjects I need to address, so I think that won’t be as painful as I thought.
It’s the time travel one, which if I do Primer, will be the hard one.
The Birthday one won’t be easy either. And you’ve got a things blowing up/ another Birthday effort as well.
I was expecting the number 1 to be relatively easy.
The difficulty of the number one lies in that I’m harder on that review than I am on all the others. Because I want to do the film justice, and I also think that the top 5 or 6 reviews from that series are my better efforts. So it’s more that it’s down to me being critical of my own work.
The blowing up one won’t be hard. The Birthday ones are just dull so they’ll be formulaic reviews. They’re just films that don’t give me anything interesting to talk about.
So it’s the time travel one that’s the biggie.
I felt like that when I hammered mine out. I still think those are some of the best I’ve written.
This is a perfect movie.
Not enough is said about Donald McAlpine’s cinematography so I’m glad you mentioned it, R2 – plus the instantly recognisable score.
“You lose it here, you’re in a world o’ hurt.” Damn fucking straight. I used to say that on my home from the football going through Moss Side, particularly a night match…
Top one, Droid. Good idea with the cast pics as well.
Cheers, Wolf. One of the great things about the movie, is it’s immensely quotable. I used to always drop Jim Hopper into a conversation, just to see if anyone twigged. Not many did.
So, Arnie’s gone from PUMPING IRON …
to PUMPING the IRONer.
Good gracious, Morbi. That’s an atrocious joke! Good work.
/love this one. Blain rocks
Blain does indeed rock. “Son of a bitch is dug in like an Alabama tick.” It’s surprising because he’s actually the second character to go in the film. But Ventura makes a huge impact in his short time onscreen.
A fave part-when they all go blasting away wildly at the jungle around them, smoke clears, no predator, and no trees, neither!
Yep. That’s a classic scene, Bando. It’s also very funny when, after the smoke clears etc, Arnie asks Mac “What did you see?” They just unloaded a couple of thousand rounds into the jungle! Just shooting willy nilly! Funny.
I really haven’t got time to bleed today.
Presenting to the board of directors in two hours.
You got time to duck?
You presenting the numbers? Enrolment and all that gobbledegook? I’m sure it’ll be fine. I’ll send you over some of my code so you can fudge the numbers without anyone noticing.
Enquiries- Bums on seats.
I’m busy fudging them as we speak