Predator (1987)

Director: John McTiernan
Writer: Jim Thomas, John Thomas
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves, R.G. Armstrong, Shane Black, Kevin Peter Hall
Seen on: 8.10.2022

Content Note: misogyny

Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) leads a group of commandos. They were contacted by his old friend Dillon (Carl Weathers) to help with finding a crashed helicopter in a Central American jungle and hopefully returning any survivors. But as they make their way through the jungle, they soon have to realize that they are not the Big Bad there. They are being hunted themselves.

Predator is, of course, a cult classic by now. I had never seen it before (I saw Predators many years ago), but I figured, now (with the release of Prey) would be a good time as any to catch up with it. And I can see why it became a classic – it is a very well made action slash horror film that still works.

The film poster showing Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) carrying a machine gun in a pixelated image with crosshairs pointing to his heart.

Predator can be read as a very critical and insightful film, although I am not sure how much this happened on purpose or by accident. But there is certainly something to be said for a film that has a group of USAmerican soldiers laying waste in a Central American jungle only to have the tables turn on them. Maybe going someplace foreign to kill random people (for sport or as a job) is not such a great thing after all? But I will admit that I have my doubts about this interpretation being intended on the filmmakers’ side. It seems more realistic that they wanted to show how competent Dutch and his men are at killing so their helplessness when faced with the Predator emphasises the dangers of it. Whether intended or not, it is not a reading that the film sustains at all times.

In any case, whatever the film’s politics, I really liked how the Predator was set in scene. First of all, the special effects are simply fantastic. The Predator still looks completely realistic, so hooray for practical effects. But the invisibility part was also well done. The Predator Cam, if you will, was a really nice idea, although it wasn’t always easy to decypher for me what it was seeing. And finally, I liked that we don’t get any explanations from the narrative why it was in the jungle. It seems to be some kind of recurring thing, but whether it’s just for fun or for food or for some kind of colonial effort – who the fuck knows?

Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Dillon (Carl Weathers) and Mac (Bill Duke) in the jungle. Dutch is pointing his gun at something.

The story progresses nicely. There is never a dull moment. The dialogue is often cheesy, but it’s probably 100% better to give Schwarzenegger cheesy dialogue to chew than anything that is good. It definitely entertained me. Less entertaining were the constant misogynistic jokes one character delivers into the world. I could have maybe found it funnier if nobody ever laughed about them (as it would have turned the joke on the misogynist) but that is not the case. From today’s perspective, it was also not the greatest choice to have the Native American character be a great tracker. Too many stereotypes.

Overall, it is enjoyable enough to make me curious about the rest of the series. Let’s see where things go from here.

The Predator (Kevin Peter Hall) in a "come at me"-pose.

Summarizing: well done.

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