Score : 87/100
Watchable Minutes: 107/107
Trailer Comparison : All the trailers I looked at to write this piece basically condensed the whole movie into about two and a half minutes. If you’ve never seen Predator before, do yourself a favor and skip the trailers.
Movie or Film : Predator is the embodiment of the word “Badass”, which firmly puts it in the movie category. It’s a classic movie, but nowhere close to a film.
- Run time : 1 hr 47 minutes
- Studio : 20th Century Studios
- Director : John McTiernan
- Where to Watch : Prime Video
A team of commandos led by Major Dutch Schaefer is sent to the heart of the Central American jungle to carry out what they believe to be a rescue mission. Under orders from Dillon, a CIA agent and old friend of Dutch, the commandos traverse the jungle in search of their targets. The team soon realizes they are being hunted by something far more sinister than guerilla soldiers. After the discovering the truth of their mission, it turns into a fight for survival against an unstoppable and otherworldly foe.
Ok, so Predator is an all time classic. I recognize that the story is a simplistic and the execution is messy, but I could not care less. It is my definition of a popcorn movie, a throwback to when that actually meant something. Nowadays, popcorn movies are ridiculous sequels and bad summer movies. I don’t know what went wrong, but I’m glad we have Predator. I scored this movie objectively at first and decided I was too harsh so I gave it what I’m calling the “Classic Pass”. It gives up to a +15 buff to the score for influence, coolness, and fun.
The story of Predator is fairly simple. Commandos drop in to Central American jungle under false pretenses, carry out the mission, discover they were lied to, get hunted by an alien until only one remains and the deathmatch of the century occurs. What more could you ask for? Guns? Check. Action? Check. Badass quotes? Check. Aside from the lackluster character development and the drama of the betrayal being a wee bit schlocky, it’s pretty good for a late 80s action movie. It’s entertaining all the way through to the very end. Definitely earned the bonus points for being straight up cool. The pacing is great and I love the concept of the Predator just hanging back and watching the whole time, stalking the commandos. Also, not revealing the Predator’s actual face until the very end is incredibly effective in adding to the mystique of the creature. It’s such a simple idea but one that is constantly overlooked by many modern movies.
The other components of this movie aren’t quite as sharp. The directing and writing felt very formulaic, especially when watching this movie nearly 35 years after release. I have to remind myself that this was movie was made in the action movie heyday and that it wasn’t formulaic when it was released. Everything moves along quickly without any low points. There’s tension and subversion of expectations as well as an impending sense of dread that you’re being watched. I think that what really kept this movie afloat was the cast and I doubt many people would disagree with that.
If I asked you to name a better cast for this movie, I don’t think you could. You have Arnold Schwarzenegger – The Terminator, The Last Action Hero, Commando. Then there’s Jesse “The Body” Ventura – WWF (WWE) superstar, The Running Man. Then to close it out you get Carl Weathers – Apollo Creed, Happy Gilmore, The Mandalorian. All three of these actors were in their various heydays in the 80s. These three guys running through the jungle fighting an invisible alien with huge guns and explosives is pound for pound the most badass idea I’ve ever heard of. The behind the scenes info about this movie make it even more enjoyable. Here are two quick videos about Arnold pranking Jesse and some trivia. Also, the fact that Arnold and Jesse both ended up being elected governors of California and Minnesota respectively is crazy.
The visuals of Predator have not aged well, especially the invisible effect for the Predator. There’s actually a few shots were you can see potted plants in the background instead of actual jungle foliage. I also saw right through the shot where Dillon lost his arm. I can hear the director in my head saying “Now Carl, make sure you keep your right side away from the camera” so they wouldn’t have to CG his arm off. The exploding head effects were pretty cheesy too. I can forgive all that because the character design for the actual Predator is fantastic and holds up. It is a top tier creature design, followed by the face hugger / Xenomorph from ALIEN and Chewbacca.
I also really enjoyed the score. The theme is interesting and pleasing. It feels very alien and matches the movie perfectly. I don’t think I could hum it or anything, but I would definitely be able to pick it out of a blind playlist. The usage of “Long Tall Sally” by Little Richard also gave the movie a sort of Vietnam era vibe that works well with the story. The overall sound design is pretty poor in contrast. It’s got that rubbery problem I’ve mentioned in my other reviews about movies from the 80s. I had to take away a few points for that because there’s not really a good excuse for it.
I love Predator and feel that it is very deserving of the first ever “Classic Pass” award. It has impacted both the sci fi and action genre (and gave rise to the epic handshake meme), it’s fun for the entire run time, and way cool. Don’t let the 80s cheese fool you. I usually watch this movie about once a year and this year (2021), I watched it with my youngest brother who had never seen it before. The look of disgust when the Predator rips out somebody’s spine and the huge eyes when the commandos were shooting down the jungle was totally awesome. Even if you’ve seen this movie a dozen times, find somebody who hasn’t seen it and watch it with them. And remember, if it bleeds, we can kill it.
If you like this, check out :
- The Terminator
- Total Recall (1990)