I am not an Arnold Schwarzenegger fan. I generally find his movies to be shallow, badly acted, of little plot, and not very well-scripted. Not to mention how clumsy the Austrian bodybuilder sounds when he’s playing an all-American (a cheap shot, I gotta admit). With all that in mind, I must say that I like Predator. The story may not be anything great, but the character interactions and sense of fear save this movie.
Arnold plays Major Dutch Schaefer, a soldier who is assigned to lead an attempt to rescue hostages. This is an obvious reference to the hostage crises of the 1980s. Things change when a monster known as the Predator begins killing members of Dutch’s team with pretty glitzy-looking camouflage.
The characters are pretty interesting. Dutch is a humanistic field commander who finds it appalling that many of the pen-pushers have no more respect for the lives of soldiers than they do for household appliances. The second in command, CIA operate George Dillon, ends up being a representative of those pen-pushers and even ends up deceiving Dutch about their true assignment. This makes for some quite interesting character conflict.
Like the Aliens series, Predator is as much a horror movie as an action one. And it’s really scary. Director John McTiernan (who also directed the popular Die Hard) knows the arts of timing and chilling pauses that make the viewer know fear. And the Predator proves to be a particularly fearful villain.
Since the Predator can blend in with his surroundings, it’s almost impossible to not be ambushed by him. This is also done quite well. Dutch trying his best to spot him is illustrated effectively and emotionally, not unlike the hobbits trying to avoid being spotted by the nazgul in the Lord Of the Rings. It’s a far cry from those action movies of the early-to-mid-’80s in which someone would win a firefight with a squad without even taking cover.
Useless trivia: this movie has three lines you’ve heard before:
“I ain’t got time to bleed.”
“If it bleeds, we can kill it!.”
“Kill me! I’m here! Kill me!”
If there is any criticism to be made of Predator, it is that we never learn much about the Predator himself. He’s basically just a monster with futuristic technology who kills people. But even this isn’t too bad. It adds to the horror that we don’t know much about him.
All said, Predator succeeds both as an action movie and as a horror movie.
Overall: 8 out of 10