Called in by his old partner Dillon (Carl Weathers) to rescue hostages from militants, Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) finds himself and his men being hunted in a dense jungle by an alien predator (Kevin Peter Hall). It can blend into its environment, mimic sounds and has heat-seeking vision. Despite being outmatched and outgunned, Dutch decides to take this thing head on to make sure it can’t harm any more people than it already has.
This movie is a prime example of how action movies should always be done. It starts by introducing us to Dutch and Dillon and within two minutes they’ve not only developed both characters enough for us to care about them but they’ve done enough to make us like both of them as well. Every character is introduced in about ten minutes and you’re immediately thrown into the action, knowing everybody, understanding motives and caring about the entire crew. There’s no huge, convoluted conspiracies or forced plot lines. Everything has a purpose and none of the characters are idiots. I also really like that despite being about soldiers fighting an invisible alien warrior, we don’t actually get into that part of the story until about halfway in. Until then we’re working on the hostage situation, which is enough to humanize the characters, show how much they care about the lives of others as well as their own, and then after everything is settled bringing out the big guns and having them have to deal with a far greater threat. It’s very basic but at the same time very clever and intelligent writing for an action film.
This is not by any means a subtle film, despite all the subtleties in the writing. They go in and just start blowing up everything and firing guns like crazy, to the point that it gets very comical in that way the 80s are known for these days. But that’s what makes the movie so fun, how these guys are just total badasses, willing to waste all their ammunition in the hopes of wasting all the enemies. Jesse Ventura gets one of the best lines of the movie when somebody tells his character Blain that he’s been hit and without turning to him or missing a beat he just says, “I ain’t got time to bleed.” That pretty much sums up most of the characters in a single line, showing they’re not afraid of anything, even death. Of course, a lot of them do end up dying, and every time it happens it has impact. Each of the characters is likable enough by the time they get taken that there is some emotion behind each kill. The way things play out in the third act are just awesome, with Dutch going head-to-head against the predator using stealth (something Schwarzenegger is not familiar with), cunning and explosions (something Schwarzenegger is very familiar with).
Predator is a near-perfect action film with just enough subtlety to create an interesting and engaging story, but enough over-the-top action to make it fun and exciting as well. It’s right up there with Die Hard when it comes to being a very entertaining 80s action flick.