Movies can basically be broken down into two categories: Every other film, and the 1987 masterpiece “Predator.” This film literally has it all. Believe it or not, there are actually naysayers out there who doubt the cinematic value of this film. I implore you to take a few moments to hear out my argument in defense of “Predator.” I truly believe that with an open mind and, more importantly, an open heart, you too will begin to cherish John McTiernan’s work of art in the way you rightfully should.
Predator starts off the way all films should: with very little character background or development. Sure we could spend a large chunk of the film learning about each character’s history and what makes them who they are, but why waste all that time when it could all be summed up with this shot:
Biceps! That’s what really matters. We never even learn the character’s last names for crying out loud because who cares? In most films, too much effort is wasted on plot or storylines. All we need to know is that a couple of ultra buff dudes are both wearing short sleeve polo shirts that are two sizes too small and also that there is no racial tension. They have basically solved every economic and social problem in one manly handshake.
Speaking of characters, “Predator” has the strongest supporting cast ever assembled. Imagine if “Ocean’s 11” was just made up of a dozen Clooneys and Pitts. That’s what you get here. Let’s run down the lineup while “Long Tall Sally” by Little Richard plays in the background:
This guy plays by his own rules. I don’t mean social or military rules, I mean the rules of nature. At one point he gets shot and is told he’s bleeding. How does he respond? With a request to go to the hospital? Was it asking for a bandage and a chopper to escort him out of the jungle? No. His response was “I ain’t got time to bleed.” Are you kidding me? This guy is above bleeding! To help illustrate how beyond amazing that is, here’s a list of people who aren’t above bleeding:
John F Kennedy
Any woman who has ever ovulated
The characters on Oz
Ulysses S. Grant
So essentially he is tougher than all of them combined. But I digress…
We don’t learn much about Poncho, but we do know that he isn’t a fan of chewing tobacco so he probably has very healthy gums and teeth. Also, if he was chosen to join this group of elite mercenaries, then he’s got a background that would make Suge Knight piss in his pants. I mean, allegedly piss in his pants.
Are you looking for a little comic relief? Oh man Hawkins has got you covered! This guy could be in the middle of a massive gun battle where people are being murdered all around him and yet he still finds time to make a joke about his girlfriend’s disgusting reproductive organs. Judging by those glasses that are the size of dart boards I would think he should be happy with anyone who would settle for him, but not Hawkins. He’s dropping comedy gold 24/7.
Billy, who are you? He’s a man of mystery who has the ability to connect with nature in a way we wouldn’t see again until John Travolta starred in “Phenomenon”. Except Billy isn’t moving pens, he’s kicking butt. He also has a laugh that’s so infectious it inspires the Predator and fills the jungle with glee.
Mac is so tough that he’s constantly shaving with a razor that I can only assume is not a Gillette Fusion Proglide. He also carries around a giant machine gun that could single-handedly destroy half of the jungle. He also may or may not be in love with Blain. It’s complicated.
Chubbs Peterson is supposed to be a corporate suit sent along to supervise the mission, but look at that guy. He’s no corporate stooge, he’s a stone cold warrior that was promoted to a desk job. Don’t overlook Dillon, he can carry his own. He knows where he is, he’s in the jungle baby!
Before the group even encounters the alien life form simply known as “The Predator” they embark on a mission to rescue some hostages from jungle terrorists and boy, do we get some fantastic moments.
First of all, we learn that if you’re ever stuck in the jungle, just chop a tree branch in half and have a drink! Did they not bring supplies for this trip? Doesn’t matter when you have Billy around. He’ll make you pancakes using tree bark and prayer. That’s just what he does.
After discovering some dead bodies, the gang continues marching through the jungle when we get our first glimpse of the type of futuristic technology is going to be used in this film. That’s right, it’s Predator-Vision:
This advanced alien being doesn’t waste his time looking at your clothes or your beard, he’s just curious at how well your circulation is or if you get chilly in cool weather.
Finally the group reaches the terrorists headquarters – which has shockingly been untouched by the Predator – where Arnold’s character Dutch witnesses one of the hostages being executed. Uh oh, now you’ve done it.
We get to see each member of the group using their signature weapons and showing their skills, but all of those moments pale in comparison to Dutch’s masterful kill.
After invading the central hub of the headquarters, Dutch takes out his machete and kills an enemy solider. Most men in that situation would simply be grateful to be alive. They may say something like “Wow, that was a close call, thank goodness for my extensive training and experience.” That’s not Dutch’s style. What does he say?
STICK AROUND! Haha yes! Do you get it? He threw a knife at him and made him stick to the wall and then, in turn, told him to stick around which is a common slang used to ask someone to remain in one place. You can’t beat that wordplay!
The camp gets cleared out and there’s some unimportant political arguing, but then we get to the real meat of the film: the battle with The Predator.
The alien uses his skills to learn the voices of each of the mercenaries in order to defeat them, because, let’s be honest, just some random jabroni alien isn’t going to defeat this group without some sort of unfair advantage.
It starts taking out the crew one by one. First he gets Hawkins by turning into one of those magic eye puzzles you used to do in sixth grade.
Soon after he blows a hole in Jesse “The Body” Ventura using his Silver Surfer death ray.
I assume this is a message from the writers to kids letting them know the dangers of chewing tobacco. Not only is this movie entertaining, there are also many life lessons to be learned. Hollywood should take note and emulate these messages. Notice how Poncho, who declined to use the tobacco, lived longer than Blain. Take that, corporate tobacco corporations!
After a few other skirmishes Mac is killed trying to get vengeance for his best friend, and possible lover, Blain. Wow, just like Romeo and Juliet. What greater love is there than one who would lay down his life for a friend? Jesus said that.
In a tearjerker moment, we see Dutch’s longtime friend Dillon lose his arm trying to redeem himself.
Was this foreshadowing to Carl Weathers’ eventual character in “Happy Gilmore?” Who has time to think about something like that when we witness the cinematic power of watching a loved one pass away? Is there any emotional range this movie can’t hit? Rest in peace, good buddy.
Maybe you’re saying to yourself “You know, all this sounds good, but I desire a little mystery.” My friend, your prayers have been answered. Everyone is running from the alien, trying to save themselves, but Billy has had enough.
The remaining survivors run in fear as Billy faces his nemesis head on. He pulls out his machete and this happens:
He slices his chest! Why did you do that, Billy? The next thing we hear is Billy screaming somewhere out in the jungle. What happened to you, Billy? Why aren’t there websites and forums dedicated to fan fiction of Billy’s fate? Is he still alive somewhere out there? It doesn’t matter because he will always be alive in our hearts. Our love will always keep him living on.
Poncho gets killed next which would be sad, if it wasn’t followed by the greatest line of dialogue ever uttered on the silver screen.
“GET TO THE CHOPPER!”
That’s the stuff of legends. There are moments that are bigger than any individual person and this is one of them. For me, the greatest accomplishments by mankind rank as followed:
The Discovery of America
The Alleged Moon Landing
Arnold yelling “Get to the chopper!”
Chocolate Double Stuffed Oreos Invented
The Discovery of Penicillin
Dutch engages in a man vs wild war with the creature after discovering that mud hides him from the heat seeking vision of The Predator. Dutch pulls a Home Alone and sets up traps all over the jungle to foil the alien’s plan. Now this movie is teaching us how to handle a crisis! Is there anything it can’t do?
Finally, the monster reveals his true self, which is completely terrifying. It seems that all is lost until Dutch uses one of his traps to fatally injure his nemesis.
Seems like a normal ending, right? Wrong, idiot. This is the greatest comeback story ever told. This is “Rudy,” “Miracle,” and “Teen Wolf” all rolled into one inspirational clump. What can you do when faced with oppression and a seemingly undefeatable opponent? You reach down into the core of who you are, and you survive. When all seems lost and everyone else has abandoned you, there is something deep inside that beckons you to push on, to survive. This isn’t just a triumph for Dutch, this is a triumph for the human race. No matter what your alien nemesis is, Dutch proved that you can win. Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud of the progress we have made. God bless you, Predator. You make all of us want to be a better person and also not use recreational chewing tobaccos.