Reviewed: Predator (John McTiernan, 1987)

predator_xlg.jpg

Director: John McTiernan

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrilo, Bill Duke

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Full to the brim with 80s aesthetics, Predator is a fine example of being a product of its era. With a throwaway action premise, and some of the industries most macho cast members, this science fiction film follows a standard structure that was popularised during this period. Although it is enjoyable to watch, Predator has aged slightly and such new and better action films have since been produced.

A narrative that backends two separate mercenary operations into one plot strand, Predator comes across as disjointed when observed in this way. With the first act seeming off, in reflection to the development of the characters, Predator comes more into itself when the films troupe of soldiers are slowly hunted by an invisible threat. Through the decision to never fully show the creature into the final third of this film, the production is able to build up a great deal of tension into the onscreen proceedings. This tension really creates a feeling of excitement to resonate from within the film, with the final pay off utilising the entire films scope to deliver aspects that feel complimentary to whats come before.

Never taking itself too seriously, the film is fun to watch but never holds any moments that stand out as examples of expert filmmaking. In never developing past the premise, the characters that are hunted do not carry any individuality or development. Instead they appear as stock soldiers used to serve the action sequences that this film bases itself around.

As the films main selling point, Arnold Schwarzenegger goes full on body builder form with his role as Dutch (the films central protagonist). As such an important component of the narrative, the Austrian actor is given the most to do onscreen. With his character having an inevitable showdown with the titular beast, the final third becomes a action sequence that plays to the action icons strengths (muscles with little to no dialogue present). The cast who comprise his mercenary troupe are not so lucky, with each of their depictions coming across as one dimensional stereotypes of 80s action heroes.

Predator, although slightly aged, is designed to push the boundaries of its era. With some aspects of the narrative seen through the creatures eyes, the effect of certain shots pushes the tension further into the narrative development. This level of tension corresponds to excitement to the onscreen exploits – which in turn generates an entertaining action romp. With an 80s aesthetic throughout, Stan Winston’s Predator design fits perfectly into the films premise.

A lasting cinematic creation, that was obviously created as a foil to the heavily muscled protagonists, Winston’s design incorporates many otherworldly components to create a real horror threat. This has helped develop a legacy for Predator, as a entertaining example of 80s action. 

Plot 3

Acting 2

Direction 3

Retrospect 2

Overall 2.5

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