Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Predator (1987)

Obviously, I've seen Predator several times before. I was a teenager when it came out, after all. But until recently, I did not own it on DVD.

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past 25 years, the plot of this one is simple enough: an elite special forces team are sent on an extraction mission into hostile territory, only to find themselves the hunted, not the hunters, when an alien on 'safari' chooses them as its next prey. Equipped with a camouflage field and powerful weapons, the creature picks the soldiers off one by one, until the ultimate showdown with Arnie, who is at the height of his action movie epoch here.

If that all sounds like total B-movie schlock, it is. What makes Predator shine is the perfect casting, the tight script, and the even tighter direction. John McTiernan was just a year off making Die Hard, which is perhaps the 'perfect storm' of action movies, and he does a great job with the material here. From the gonzo gung ho glory of the special forces team's initially successful mission, to the panic of their first encounter with the Predator, and the growing desperation as their numbers are whittled away despite their skill and best efforts, this film gets it all right. These soldiers are portrayed as soldiers: tough, resilient men who know how to defend themselves, but who find themselves confronted by an enemy for whom they are not prepared. In some ways, it can be seen as a mirror image of Die Hard: Hans Gruber and his gang are smart and organised, but they aren't any more ready for John Maclane than Arnie & Co are for the Predator.

This is a great action film. Highly recommended.

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