Director: John McTierman
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 75
A crack team of military commandos led by Arnold Schwarzenegger heads into Central American jungles on a rescue mission. But the jungle holds something sinister, and as the mission moves along, the team finds themselves fighting for their lives against an extraterrestrial enemy: the Predator.
Predator greatly overcomes its weak points to provide a solid evening’s entertainment. The movie is quick and suspenseful, the villain rocks, and the action satisfies.
This movie gets lots of points for its deft combination of action genres: war and sci-fi. What begins as a jungle trek against terrorists ends up as a battle against an extraterrestrial monster. How cool is that? You get two movies in one. If you fell asleep during the first half of the movie, you might wake up to think you are watching a completely unrelated Terminator prequel.
Dead bodies fly around liberally in the movie, and plenty of things go boom. Dense jungle sets contribute to the suspense. Although the acting limps along and a fourth-grader surely wrote the script, the tension of the jungle sets, the roughness of the commando team, and the grittiness of the action crank up this movie’s overall score. As an extra bonus (or minus, as the case may be) you can watch two future governors acting (well, kind of acting)—Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura.
The villain gets high marks, not so much for his overall character, but for way the story presents him to the viewer. The movie slowly exposes you to the Predator and stays within the premise during this unfolding. This slow revealing of the villain adds to the movie’s tension: for a good portion of the movie you are trying to figure out the nature of the evil that lurks in the jungle.
The creators of the film also deserve credit for contriving the story enough to wedge a decent-looking female (Elpidia Carrilo) into the movie, although she mostly runs around scared. The movie would have scored higher if they could have contrived the plot even more to have her run around scared while wearing a bikini. Why do things halfway? Be bold, I say.
The movie moves along briskly, and the outstanding special effects—dated now, for sure, but exceptional in 1987—enhance the film. The conclusion satisfies, and the movie does a respectable job of staying within its premise, with a couple of questionable yet ultimately forgivable exceptions towards the end.
Originally, the “transparent” alien scenes were played by Jean Claude Van Damme running around in a blue suit. He quit after two days because he didn’t want to be a faceless villain. The alien was completely remade and recast.
Consistent Premise: 82
Body Count: 68
Time to First Dead Body: Unknown
Special Effects: 57
Overall: 72 (Recommended)