“Get to tha choppaaa!”
Major Alan ‘Dutch’ Schaefer, Predator
A year before the release of his masterpiece Die Hard, action specialist John McTiernan came up with this jungle thriller. The film sees a crack team of commandos – led by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Major Alan ‘Dutch’ Schaefer – on a mission to kill guerilla fighters and rescue a group of hostages in South America. The mission is a success but the tables are quickly turned when the titular (extraterrestrial) predator decides to make the commandos its prey.
The creature, of course, has long cemented its place as one of the most distinctive in cinema history, with its chameleon-like ability to blend into its surroundings, alongside those space-dreadlocks and that mandible face. Of course it wasn’t just the special effects team who laboured to produce eye-catching physical characteristics. Legend has it that in order to maintain the illusion that his vast physique came naturally to him, actor Carl Weathers used to get up at 3AM in order to work out without any of the other actors seeing him.
McTiernan, who has been reassessed and reclaimed in certain cinephile circles in recent years, delivers the goods with style and verve. Here, he directs a story about a group of bodybuilders – all rippling, impractical muscles and one-liners – who, armed to the teeth and used to winning, find themselves outgunned.
If nothing else, Predator is fascinating as a depiction of a type of masculinity defined entirely by physical prowess, and the emasculation that occurs when somebody else inevitably comes along with a bigger, ahem, gun. That’s not to say that it’s not also a rollicking beer-and-pizza blockbuster, filled with moments of sweaty camaraderie and explosive action. Whichever way you choose to take it, Predator is more than worth the price of admission.