Arnold Schwarzenegger and his crack Special Forces unit are sent into the South American jungle to rescue the occupants of a downed helicopter, only to find themselves the target of an unseen adversary who starts to pick them off one by one.
Schwarzenegger was at a crossroads when he made this film; up until this point he was known as the Terminator but let’s face it, playing a robot isn’t usually the stepping stone to international superstardom. The rest of his CV consisted of films like Raw Deal, Commando and Red Sonja; not exactly the stuff of legend. It can be argued that Predator was the film that set him on his way to becoming Governor Schwarzenegger rather Steven Seagal II.
It’s a perfect blend of Gung Ho action, tongue in cheek macho posturing and sci-fi invention. The first part of the film is actually typical of his early work, populated by the usual 1980’s suspects such as Bill Duke, Sonny Landham and fellow Governor Jesse Ventura who were all stalwarts of the bone-headed action movies of the time. It contains amusingly dumb lines (“I ain’t got time to bleed!”) and corny male bonding but it’s just the right side of post modern; but what elevated it above the crowd was most definitely the alien. The concept of a monster movie where the monster actually has a mind of its own and the technology to match, and hunts human beings for sport rather than lunch is works brilliantly. The cloaking device also meant that it could dispense with the cliched dark corridors and stalk our heroes in broad daylight without being seen. It still could’ve been trash in the wrong hands, but John McTiernan always had a flair for unpretentious action flicks and his slick, energetic direction sets the mayhem off perfectly.
All we need now is Apollo Creed to be elected President and we can thank Predator for most of the American political system as we know it.