With Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to the big screen in The Last Stand, the Flickering Myth writing team look back at their favourite Arnie movies. Next up, Chris Cooper with 1987’s Predator…
“Run! Go! Get to da choppah!”
“If it bleeds, we can kill it.”
“Come on… Come on! Do it! Do it! Come on! Kill me! I’m here! Come on! Do it now! Kill me!”
Phew, now that I’ve got that out of the way…
With Arnie soon making a comeback, the team here at Flickering Myth started picking out their favourite films, and the only choice for me was his turn as Major Alan ‘Dutch’ Schaefer in Predator. I love both Terminator films (yes two!), Commando and many others, but nothing else comes close for me in terms of writing, action, machismo, and entertainment.
The premise is simple. An elite group of soldiers enter the Central American jungle on a rescue mission. Things turn sour when they find out that mission is part of a cover up. It gets nastier when an extra-terrestrial hunter picks them out as worthy prey.
I’ve already covered how quotable the film is (and saved you from attempts at shoe-horning them into this article), which goes to show how sharp a script was written by Jim and John Thomas. Most films hope for one good line that will be remembered, whereas this one has several from each character! Like the muscle bound actors within, it is very direct, doesn’t outstay its welcome and does exactly what it needs to do. It’s a fantastically well rounded action film. In fact, I’d go as far to say that the film is stronger in the first half when we have the whole group together, just doing their thing whilst we get fleeting POV shots from the Predator. The second half, with a game of cat and mouse being played between Dutch and The Predator (an imposing Kevin Peter Hall, who had just played Bigfoot in Harry and the Hendersons) is still fantastic but loses something in comparison.
What a cast. Though each character is very thinly written, they all have strong characterisations. Dutch, Billy, Dillon, Hawkins, Poncho, Blain and Mac have got to be the manliest group of men ever to grace celluloid. Poncho and Hawkins aren’t even in amazing shape (in comparison to the body builders and wrestlers they are stood next to) but get their own memorable moments. I never did understand Hawkins’ (Iron Man 3 director Shane Black, who was on set to keep an eye on first time feature director McTiernan) jokes when I was younger, but just like Billy in the film, they eventually clicked. Their strong presence is felt both on and off camera with Carl Weathers (Dillon) explaining how he would never work out in front of the other actors, and swear that his freshly pumped physique was natural. A bodyguard was hired to work on the set, not to keep any one actor safe, but to keep all of them safe from Sonny Landham (Billy). You couldn’t write this stuff!
In a film filled with brilliant set pieces, two stand out. The first is the teams assault on a Guerilla compound nearer the start of the film. Following some improvisation by Dutch, the whole team attacks (show time!) and we get to see just how good they are, as does the Predator. The scene moves between the team as they seemingly invincibly take down the large group of cannon fodder. It only briefly slows at times to allow some great one-liners.
The second is Mac’s sighting of the Predator for the first time. Quite rightly, spotting a pair of glowing eyes on a nearly invisible 7 foot+ humanoid completely freaks him out. So picking up Blaine’s minigun, he proceeds to fire, with the team soon joining in. No questions, just about a minute of guns firing. I’m pretty sure not one leaf makes it out of that scene intact. They probably deserved it.
Look at the image below. Surely anyone who sees this would need to go and see the film immediately? I swear I’ve grown more chest hair each time I watch it.
Although I prefer the first half, the latter stages of the film with Dutch on his own versus the Predator are rather cool. For a start, he figures out how (well, he was lucky but we’ll forgive that) to turn the tables and become invisible himself. Then we are treated to what always strikes me as the most hardcore bit of Boy-Scouting ever, with Dutch crafting weapons and traps in a last stand. We also get to see the Predator in all his glory, and what a handsome chap he is. The design is impressive, as are the costume and animatronics involved. It’s an iconic design, brought to life by Hall with his impressive physicality. With his team decimated and only his wits to rely on, can Dutch defeat an alien whose life is based around a culture of hunting? I think you know the answer!
I could write for days about how I love this film, but I’ll leave it at this. Predator has a much stronger idea at its core than most of its contemporaries and is a true classic, with a fantastic setting, strong cast and many memorable sequences/scenes. Arnie himself is fantastic with his physique and line delivery making him the perfect leader of a such a group of bad asses. So run! Go! Watch it!