No 366 - Predator
Director - John McTiernan
Let it be said and let it be official. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a BEAST. Like in a lot of his films, Arnie finds a reason to get topless in this film (at one point he's wearing a very odd backless utility waistcoat) so you can all feel inferior as you check out his ridiculous muscles.
The man is not human.
He can't be.
He is, however, incredibly cool. As the super-ultra-mega-marines (or whatever this team is supposed to be) leave the helicopter a lone figure lights a cigar in the shadows. Meet Dutch, the team's leader and a serious Bad Ass. Armed with a gun that's almost as big as his pectorals he goes into the rainforest of an unspecified Central American country and he fights the baddies. Only he doesn't.... because the Central American baddies aren't the real baddies. The baddy is a big old bloody Alien. Who will stop at nothing to kill them.
The Predator franchise has merged with the Alien franchise and provided comics and games and films and now we know loads about the two races. But this film triumphs because it doesn't explain anything. The alien is just here. Killing people.
A group of marines (or super soldiers, or elite squad of some kind) are in the woods and are picked off one by one. Hunted by a sort of invisible predator hiding in the trees. This film is not about plot, it is about ACTION ACTION ACTION - and there is a lot of that around. From really gross set pieces to a classic Arnie-ism (to this day, I don't understand why witty one liners are so funny when coming from the mouth of Schwarzenegger.... I think it is because of his dry emotionless voice). However as the troupe are cut down, they naturally become far more paranoid and jumpy. They shoot at the trees and the big guns come out. Literally in the form of Old Painless - one of the most gratuitous bits of gun fetishism I've ever seen in a film. But it succeeds. Old Painless is a pretty gosh-danged cool bit of kit. As they become more frantic we also get the joy of seeing Arnie express emotion. He can't do it. Man is mahogany, through and through. It is why his portrayal as the Terminator is so perfect. He is a ridiculously proportioned and utterly imposing. But he is not a natural actor. Even in adverts he seems wooden, compared to sportsmen or personalities who don't act.
Whilst it doesn't give us any information, the film does happen to allude that the alien has been here before, Anna - the one 'local' actually given any lines talks about a village myth: Only in the hottest years this happens. And this year, it grows hot. We begin finding our men. We found them sometimes without their skins... and sometimes much, much worse. "El cazador trofeo de los hombres" means the demon who makes trophies of men.
That is the only thing we are given for motivation. The predator comes to Earth and scoops up skulls (or, we would assume, skin) to make into trophies.
The rest of the film is a series of people being whisked away, of limbs being hacked off and of ridiculously manly lines being uttered by ridiculously manly men. You don't need to worry about whether you are following the film, it is not the most complex of plots. But it does give you some excellent mayhem and destruction.
The Predator itself is a pretty nasty character, armed with some tough weapons. He has claws but also a series of savage laser weapons, putting him at a very big advantage over his human prey. Yet, he seems to have one massive flaw. Not his fault, it is genetic, but it makes you wonder about the evolution of that race.
It seems that despite their culture being based on stealth, they have been cursed with neon yellow blood. Not just neon yellow blood mind, so so neon that it glows. I can only think it is to aid their survival of the fittest. You do not want to bleed.
It takes a lot to make the Predator bleed and asides from a single gunshot wound, the Predator remains pretty much unscathed for most of the film. Until he faces the big man. Everybody has been bumped off or has GOT TO THE CHOPPER and the final showdown begins. It is a nice touch, that after long time of being a literal faceless killer they decide to give the character of the Predator a bit of an actual character. So in an act of respect towards Arnie's Dutch and his excellent fighting skills he removes his helmet and his space tech weapons and the two fight essentially unarmed. Mano a Evil -Fish Lizard Thing.
If there is one thing I have learnt from films like this and First Blood it is that if you cover yourself in mud and have enough pointy sticks you will always triumph.
Especially if you helped found Planet Hollywood. (seriously - check out like 54 seconds in...)