Yes, yes, this is a review of the original Predator, which I never saw, instead of the new one. I was pretty excited to find this at the library as it’s one of those films missing from my extensive viewing history.
And like a lot of 80s movies, it is SO BAD, and SO GOOD, at the same time. There is so much to like, and so much to hate at the same time! It’s honestly amazing. Quick plot summary: a group of U.S. special ops soldiers go deep into the (possibly) South American jungle to recover some hostages. Upon completion of their mission, they encounter an alien who enjoys hunting other species for sport. What’s the most dangerous game again? Obviously, the Predator hasn’t encountered the likes of Schwarzenegger before.
Predator is a weird lesson on the importance of restraint. I.e. the use of it, and the overuse of it. Like the shots of greenery and the slow zooms in on it. We know something is out there, the characters can feel something watching them – a feeling any audience member can relate to. We strain and try to find something as the audience and we can’t and that’s terrifying. Everyone’s waiting for the shoe to drop. And then the director (who did Die Hard) inserts this goofy ass music that sounds like something from Home Alone. It’s way over the top and kills some of the anticipation.
The action scenes leave something to be desired. They clearly blew up like an entire set and forest and got some amazing shots. Only to be dumbed down in the editing process where good guys shoot, and then bad guys fall down, and then a building blows up, with no possible frame of reference of where they are in the scene. Which is frustrating because again, some of the explosions are amazing.
But then! After the first character gets offed by the Predator everyone shoots everything they have into empty forest (including a minigun) in one glorious, glorious minute of over excess. Which, now that I think about it, was probably an indictment of the Vietnam War. The lone sneaky guerilla taking on a numerically superior opponent. It was the pre-90s where every movie secretly related to Vietnam in some way.
Gloriously violent and surprisingly original, Predator earned its place in cinema history. Although, in retrospect, there are a lot of filmmaking mistakes that wouldn’t be made by a high caliber director today.
3 out of 4 stars.