Schwarzenegger's Original Expendables
If you think of the big "P" movies over the years, those that start with the letter "P" then there is "Platoon", "Predator" and "PokĂ©mon". Well okay maybe not "PokĂ©mon" but "Platoon" certainly is and surprisingly, so is "Predator". I say surprisingly because it was part of Arnold Schwarzenegger's collection of 80s action romps and although they were all entertaining, many of them wouldn't be classed as big. But "Predator certainly is with 3 sequels already in the bag and a fourth sequel, or reboot also out there it is not only a big "P" movie but part of a franchise which has made a significant amount of money.
When a Cabinet Minister and his crew go down in a Central American jungle, Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger - Commando) and his band of elite commandos are called upon by the CIA and Dutch's old friend Dillon (Carl Weathers - Rocky IV) to go in on a rescue mission. But having found the location of the crash and a group of green berets skinned alive, it becomes apparent that Dillon has duped Dutch into a more risky mission to bring back military intelligence documents. But whilst trying to make their way out of the jungle they find themselves in a deadly battle with an Alien predator which starts picking them off one by one.
It has to be said on one level "Predator" is very much an Arnie action romp with every 80s cliche going from numerous action scenes emblazoned with his bulging biceps, dialogue which is so corny it's laughable and an almost lust for bloody violence. As such it's as entertaining as the likes of "Commando" and "Raw Deal" when it comes to all the in your face action and violence and of course none of it takes much thinking about as we watch Arnie, or Dutch as he is known, battle his way through a jungle against a deadly enemy.
But then "Predator" is more than just a brain numbing action romp thanks not so much to the storyline but because of the enemy, the alien life form which blends into the jungle and uses hi-tech weaponry. We know that the titular Predator comes from out of space, a short scene over the start tells us this but we don't know why it's in the jungle or why it enjoys killing people in a variety of brutal ways. But it doesn't really matter because he is a worthy adversary to Dutch and his band of crack operatives stuck in the jungle. It gives it another level of action because although we get the all guns blazing approach we also get the cunning approach with them trying to trap this killer alien in what becomes a battle of wits.
Plus "Predator" is a visual treat with director John McTiernan capturing both the impressiveness of the jungle but also the atmosphere. He manages to add a depth of tension to the storyline making it feel like you are part of the team stuck in the jungle. When you see beads of sweat forming on one of the men's head as he holds his position perfectly still in fear of his life, you feel that fear too. But it's also the big action scenes where McTiernan delivers with the darkness of the jungle working perfectly to make the big explosions look amazing especially when sparks shower from the skies hitting those underneath.
What is surprising is that there are moments when Schwarzenegger impresses with his acting; he delivers the right facial expression coupled with some intelligent dialogue. But to be honest those moments are few and far between in a movie where he does what he does better than anyone, that is look pumped up, grimace, shoot things and deliver such gems of corny dialogue such as "stick around" and "knock knock". Yes "Predator" is grade A Schwarzenegger action madness and enjoyable for being so.
Aside from Schwarzenegger "Predator" has a surprising list of 80s stars with Carl Weathers as Dillon, Bill Duke as Mac, Sonny Landham as Billy and wrestler Jesse Ventura as Blain. Although anyone who recognizes those names will also recognize that they have mainly been cast for there physique rather than acting skills and as such "Predator" is a movie built on big biceps, six packs and testosterone.
What this all boils down to is that "Predator" is on one hand a stereotypical 80s action romp with Schwarzenegger and his bulging biceps at it's helm. But on the other hand it has another level which makes it more than just big guns and explosions and takes us into a battle of wits deep in the jungle against the ultimate predator who kills at will. It's also visually impressive with director John McTiernan controlling the action and effects brilliantly. It's no wonder that is spawned sequels and made a packet.