Predator opens weakly, finishes strongly and has a lot of shooting in between both points. If you want to see Arnold Schwarzenegger go around shooting at the forest, getting covered in mud, building traps, and saying cheesy one-liners to his squad mates, then you’ll find Predator really fun. If action scenes that are only intermittently creative and interesting feel boring to you, then you will want to skip this one.
The movie opens with Dutch (Schwarzenegger) entering a South American jungle. He’s told that he’s going on a rescue mission, but ends up being stalked by some sort of alien creature. His team is filled with colorful personas, although they are there just so that the alien has a bunch of people to kill. One character exclaims that it kills for sport, not for food or because it needs to. But this doesn’t come into play apart from the one exclamation, which is used to explain why it didn’t kill an unarmed person. Why everyone doesn’t just drop their guns at this point is beyond me, although it seems that it will kill unarmed people regardless, because it eventually gets into a fish-fight with Dutch.
What happens for the final hour of the film is two-fold. Firstly, people shoot at the forest, and, for the most part, do not hit this alien. It becomes invisible, although we (and the characters, eventually) can see its outline. At one point, the squad unloads multiple clips into where they suspect it might be, although by my count they hit it once. They don’t see any blood, or a body, but then the unarmed person they have with them finds blood. Clearly they aren’t “the best” like they’re told they are. The blood glows green, which makes it fairly easy to see. Secondly, is a chase, hide and fight sequence involving one character and this alien.
The action scenes, with how many of them there are, end up consisting mostly of very strong men shooting at an alien that is hiding in the bushes, or running away from this same alien. It’s not all that exciting or thrilling, instead becoming somewhat boring by the end. I’ll admit that the final action scene was quite entertaining, but the lead-up wasn’t quite as good as it should have been. If, during an action film, I’m checking my watch, the movie isn’t doing its job.
While the characters aren’t all that deep, they’re at least different enough for one another so that, when they’re talking, you can at least differentiate them. With that said, I can only remember one or two of them that weren’t played by Schwarzenegger, which is probably due to them existing solely to be killed by the predator from the title. It shoots them with a gun that cauterizes their wounds, and then it skins and beheads them, keeping the skull like a trophy. It also sees in infrared light, as we know from the point of view shots we get, although this also only comes into play a couple of times.
That’s what most of the things that happen in the film seem like. They’re all there just for one or two story points. But then they don’t come into play again, simply appearing again just to look cool. In an action film, I shouldn’t be thinking about the reason that things are included and mentioned, but I was because I wasn’t being constantly entertained by the set-pieces or the plot.
The one thing that I can’t critique are the visual effects in creating this alien. It’s a costume, for the most part, which gives it a real feeling. At one point, it removes its helmet, and we get to see its face. What a reveal that was. If there’s a highlight of Predator, that’s it, if only to show off a great costume job that deserves more praise than the rest of the film does altogether.
If Predator did one thing, it made me curious about the titular creature. I wanted to learn more about it, why it was on Earth, and why it’s hiding out in a forest in South America. Does that seem like the best place to go human hunting to you? After reports of missing people, would you plan on going into such a remote forest? I don’t think I would. The predator should move into a town and become a serial killer legend. Not to tell it how to do its job, but if you can turn invisible, you’d do well murdering people in a small town. And then the next. It just seems like better “sport” to me.
But I’m not sure any of this matters to people who just want to see an action movie about some guys trapped in a jungle with an alien hunting them. The reason the alien is there doesn’t matter, its motives are inconsequential, and all people want to see is a bunch of action scenes. Like I said, they’re not that entertaining to me, because they’re mostly just random people shooting their guns, but it’s loud and very well may keep you entertained.
I didn’t find Predator tremendously entertaining, but it was an average action film. Its final hour is more or less nonstop action, the characters are all unique (although not all that memorable), and the costuming and visual effects were amazing. But I kept wondering why all of this happens, and why certain things were included if they weren’t going to be mentioned more than once or twice, especially when they look quite cool. Predator will pass the time, but might leave you with more questions than entertainment value, and I’m not sure if it’s really worth your time, unless you want to see an amazing looking alien.