Shane Black is currently working on The Predator. In 1987, Black acted, and was involved (though uncredited) in the script, of John McTiernan’s action romp Predator. Between the Alien vs Predator duo, a proud place in the Arnold Schwarzenegger canon and a couple of sequels, Predator has always been a fixture in most movie fans’ hearts.
Clearly it takes the small-crew versus a space creature set-up from Ridley Scott’s Alien but drops the creeping, uneasy horror for balls-to-the-wall militarised weaponry and bulging macho-man muscles. Underneath these audience pleasing conventions, Predator always felt like it had more to offer. Thankfully, a re-release by Park Circus gives you the chance to get lost in the jungle again with Arnie and the gang, and you can begin a re-watch of the series before The Predator drops in August 2018
The plot is simple: The US government bring in a group of rogue army men to find a cabinet minister who was captured by rebel forces. Dillon (Carl Weathers) seems to know a little more than he lets on but Dutch’s (Schwarzenegger) team of bandits take on the mission anyway. As soon as they land, we see that someone – or something – is watching them. After finding the rebel force and blasting them to oblivion, they become the hunted themselves, and are picked off one at a time.
When watching Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, both films try desperately to balance the intense, explosive action of Aliens with the sober, focused Alien hunt. Predator, interestingly, manages to balance it effortlessly. In three acts, we move from gung-ho, gun-slinging brawn into a terrifying one-on-seven pursuit until, in the final act, Schwarzenegger decides to go primal and take the predator on mano a mano. While Predator is famous for its Arnie moments (“get to the chopper!”), it is surprising how the strength of the film isn’t in his iconic muscles but in the lightning pace, immersive, lush environment and the sprawling, percussive music score.
McTiernan, a director who brought us a similar small-story-and-big-bombs franchise in Die Hard, drops all details for a story more interested in crackling guns than it is in character. Who is Dutch? It doesn’t matter, but he has a bulging muscle that’s stronger than Carl “Apollo Creed” Weathers. Even the Predator respects Dutch enough in his machismo to remove his armour and drop his weapons to take him on. Or special effects artist Stan Winston wanted to flex his alien ugly-face.
It remains an impressive, pulsating thrust of bravado and is a thrill to get wrapped up within. It is nostalgic without the sense that films that followed are all superior. In fact, it stands tall and manages to remain thoroughly exciting even by 2017 standards. Of course, this is why it is well deserving of another re-release. There are arguments that claim the predator is representative of the alluring, seductive woman – and the hyper-masculine men that are desperate to “claim” her. But Predator works best when viewed as an expertly crafted, intense ride that doesn’t let up until the final few shots.
This was originally published at Culturefly.co.uk in November 2017