Predator (1987) Film Review: An Action Thriller Classic

Movie Bunker Score:

Predator: An Exciting Action Thriller with a Subversive Spin

The Franchise that Started It All

The Predator franchise has a devoted following that has spanned over thirty years, with a total of five films released so far. However, it all began with John McTeirnan’s 1987 action thriller, Predator. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dutch, the film follows a group of commandos on a rescue mission in the Central American jungle. Little do they know, they are being hunted by an alien predator, leading to a thrilling game of survival. While Predator is often praised for its badass action, monstrous creature, and Arnold’s iconic performance, it also succeeds as a suspenseful and thought-provoking thriller.

The Tension and Mystery of the Predator

What sets Predator apart as a thriller is the gradual build-up and limited visibility of the predator itself. Similar to the fear instilled by Jaws and the Alien Xenomorph, the anticipation and uncertainty surrounding the predator’s presence make it all the more terrifying. In the beginning, the predator is only shown through point-of-view shots as it stalks its prey, accompanied by the memorable heartbeat-like sound from its scanner. Even when fully revealed, the predator’s costume, prosthetics, Alan Silvestri’s dynamic score, and McTiernan’s direction bring it to life as a formidable and fearsome creature. The final showdown with the predator is a masterclass in pacing and suspense, making it one of the most memorable action movie finales of the 80s.

A Mix of Timeless and Dated Elements

As an 80s movie, Predator does show some signs of age, particularly in certain visual effects and writing. While the predator’s design still holds up remarkably well, there are moments when other effects appear noticeably fake. Additionally, some characters outside of Dutch and Dillon lack development, making the first act feel slightly slow on initial viewing. However, the film compensates for these drawbacks through strong character dynamics, such as the chemistry between Dutch and Dillon, and the inclusion of Anna, a guerrilla captured by the team, who adds emotional depth to the story. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performance shines, showcasing his charisma and ability to portray moments of crisis and fear.

A Subversive Take on Masculinity

What truly elevates Predator from a mindless action flick to a thought-provoking masterpiece is its discreet critique of traditional, over-the-top masculinity. Initially, the film appears to embrace this exaggerated macho image, with shots focusing on the characters’ bulging biceps and their reckless approach to combat. However, when faced with the predator, their aggression proves ineffective. The predator represents the extremes of unchecked masculinity, hunting for sport and embodying primal qualities while possessing advanced technology. The tables turn when Dutch uses the predator’s thrill for the hunt against it, relying on wit and cunning to outsmart his foe. This thematic exploration adds depth and intrigue to a film that initially seems like standard 80s action fare.

Predator’s Legacy and Lasting Impact

Predator’s enduring status as a classic can be attributed to its ability to deliver the intense action expected from the genre while subverting expectations and incorporating intelligent themes. McTiernan, the director, is no stranger to this kind of subversion, as demonstrated in his film Die Hard, where the tough action hero is shown vulnerable. Predator stands out among its contemporaries because it combines adrenaline-fueled action with thought-provoking elements. While it may have its flaws, such as inconsistent characterizations, it remains an engaging and enduring action thriller that deserves ongoing discussion and analysis. In a time when such subversive approaches were rare, Predator broke new ground and cemented its status as an exciting and innovative film.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: How many films are there in the Predator franchise?

A1: The Predator franchise consists of five films released so far, with the possibility of more in the future.

Q2: Is Predator a standalone movie or should I watch the other installments first?

A2: Predator can be enjoyed as a standalone movie, offering a complete and satisfying story. However, watching the other films in the franchise can enhance your understanding of the overall Predator universe.

Q3: Are the visual effects in Predator still impressive today?

A3: While some visual effects in Predator have aged well, there are instances where the effects may appear dated. However, the iconic design of the predator itself remains a standout.

Q4: Does Predator explore deeper themes beyond action and suspense?

A4: Yes, Predator delves into themes of masculinity and subverts traditional notions of exaggerated machismo. It offers a unique perspective on the consequences of unchecked aggression.

Q5: How does Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performance contribute to the film?

A5: Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers a solid performance in Predator, showcasing his charisma and ability to portray moments of vulnerability. His commanding presence adds to the overall enjoyment of the film.

In conclusion, Predator is an enduring action thriller that captivates audiences with its intense action, suspenseful storytelling, and subversive take on traditional masculinity. While it may show some signs of age in certain aspects, it remains a classic that continues to entertain and provoke thought. Predator’s legacy as a groundbreaking film stems from its ability to combine adrenaline-fueled sequences with intelligent themes, making it a must-watch for fans of the genre.