Predator Movie Review

The scariest thing about Predator is that its lead actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is currently serving as governor of California. I'm not questioning Schwarzenegger's leadership or intellectual abilities, but it does worry me that the he-man who, in this movie, swings from trees, rolls in mud, and mumbles lines like, "If it bleeds, we can kill it," is leading the most populous state in the country. Beyond Schwarzenegger's startling career change, Predator offers little else that's remotely frightening. Unless you are still sucking your thumbs and cuddling with teddy bears, Predator offers only laughs, not chills. If you're mature enough to cross the street by yourself, you're far too mature to find Predator scary.

Yet, Predator does exhibit a few morsels of potential. Given the effective atmosphere and pacing of the film, it is evident that more capable minds could have molded this thriller into an ageless, unrelenting struggle between man and beast. Unfortunately, instead of penning a daring, original plot, writers Jim Thomas and John Thomas recycle formulas from movies like Rambo and Alien. It goes without saying that Predator brings nothing new to the table, and lacks both surprise and suspense.

The formula involves a half-dozen hulking, overconfident U.S. commandoes (led by Arnold Schwarzenegger) who travel to an isolated location in the Mexican jungle to rescue hostages from terrorists. After completing the mission without difficulty, a few surprises erupt. First, they discover that one of the commandoes had a personal agenda in completing the mission. Second, the commandos begin meeting grisly demises. One by one, they fall prey to an unseen jungle predator. But who -- or what -- is killing them, and why?

Initially, it appears that the enemy is a renegade terrorist, admirably camouflaged in the jungle surroundings. When a commando spots glowing eyes floating through the jungle, however, it becomes apparent that a terrorist isn't hunting them. It's something far worse. "There's something out there waiting for us, and it ain't no man," a commando mutters to his team. Indeed, it ain't no man. It's an alien from outer space that has traveled to earth to hunt humans for sport. Why an alien would go through all the trouble of flying across the solar system just to kill a few guys for fun is beyond me, but maybe he needed a hobby.

While it is marketed as a sci-fi horror film, Predator is really nothing more than another brainless action flick. Director John McTiernan -- who has made a career out of helming brainless action flicks like The 13th Warrior, Last Action Hero, and Rollerball (2002) -- puts little effort in blending science fiction with horror. Instead, he focuses on guns and explosions. The action sequences are well crafted, but violence relieves tension, and McTiernan doesn't have the patience to build momentum and suspense. He skips right to the relentless, unsystematic gunfire and bloodshed. The result: Commandos pace around the jungle as aimless as a bunch of headless chickens; after the predator kills one, the commandoes retaliate by firing thousands of rounds into the jungle and miss completely. Then repeat. That's Predator in a nutshell.

Predator doesn't even work as guilty pleasure... it isn't even fun to watch while plastered on Saturday night. When the predator preys on its victims, the camera cuts away. What's the fun of watching an alien flick if we don't get to see the alien mutilate people? Additionally, the predator spends most of the movie inside an invisibility suit. Do the producers think this adds suspense or tension? It doesn't. In fact, it makes the movie less scary. How can the creature be frightening if we can even see it? However, the invisibility and lack of gore only skim the surface of the movie's flaws. In truth, the film is uninteresting because we don't care about the thinly sketched characters. Boys playing with G.I. Joes put more character development into their toys than this movie puts into the commandoes.

Oh, and back to the politics thing. As it turns out, Predator became a launching pad for actor/politicians. Besides Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura was elected Governor of Minnesota in 1998. Additionally, Sonny Landham ran an unsuccessful campaign for Governor of Kentucky in 2003. Coincidence? I think not. My guess: The predator had connections.

The two-disc DVD set includes a variety of extras that are as useless as the movie itself. The outtakes and deleted scenes make you wonder why the producers would even waste their time including them in the DVD extras; they are completely dispensable. The disk also includes a "Predator profile," which describes, through pictures, the art of the Predator's weapons. Other extras include commentaries and interviews about the special effects... none are all that fascinating, although the clip on the gantline gun is cool.

Your dog is hungry.


Predator Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: R, 1987


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