In a decade known for totally SWOLL, superhuman dudes; one military sci-fi actioner gathered a cast of men in their prime that puts the HUGE in HUman Growth hormonE. When a covert Special Forces unit working for the CIA (Carl Weathers) fails drops off the map during a mission to take out a South American militant group, they must recruit the baddest rescue outfit on earth (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham [and Hollywood writer Shane Black])to find out what happened. What starts out as a rescue mission in an in hospitable jungle becomes a fight for survival when something not of this world sees the sport in hunting them down. Predator like its iconic predecessor Alien instantly achieved iconic status and triggered a plethora of sequels/knock-offs. It’s the perfect blend of explosive machismo and thrills where the setting is almost as ominous as the terrifying extra-terrestrial villain. Let’s get to it and kick-off 2013’s Five Star Films with this proclamation – “If it bleeds, we can KILL it!”
1. Dutch – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Other than his career defining work in Conan the Barbarian and Terminator/Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Arnie really does some career best work in Predator. Apart for the obvious physicality required of a role when he has to sell leadership of the outfit – it’s the possessed determination that he conjures when facing this seemingly unkillable foe that continues to resonate. And we must thank the Governator for the line reading that launched a thousand bad impressions of “GET TO DA CHOPPPPPAAAAA”
2. “Youuuu sonoffffaaaaaaabitch”
That’s not a handshake…THIS IS A HANDSHAKE!.
3. Billy – Sonny Landham
In one shining memorable moment Sonny Landham’s Billy becomes the single greatest action movie badass. Standing on a gigantic tree trunk that forms a jungle bridge, turned toward his camouflaged antagonist, he sheds all of his weaponry; except from an enormous bowie knife. With a stare that I’m positive contains the burning fires of hell; he drags the tips of his bowie knife the size of a sword across his chest as a challenge.
The behind the scenes stories about Sonny Landham are almost more terrifyingly badass than the laconic powerhouse. Unlike films sets that provide security for their star, the filmmakers had to have a bodyguard for Landham to protect the cast and crew. Check out the featurettes on the special edition of the DVD or Blu Ray.
4. Blain – Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura & Mac – Bill Duke
Mac and Blain are like a buddy cop film pair in the middle of military sci fi film. Where Duke’s Mac is the stoic, silent killer; Ventura’s Blain is bravado and terrific one-liners:
“This stuff’ll make you a God-damned sexual Tyrannosaur, just like me”
“I ain’t got time to bleed.”
But the great sub-plot evolves when Blain becomes a victim of the Predator and pushes Mac to the brink of insanity. And in his descent to madness, Duke’s Mac becomes attuned to the intergalactic monster hunting his team and delivers a fascinating ‘possessed’ performance.
“I seeeeee youuuuu”
5. Director – John McTiernan
Before ascending to action movie royalty status with the titanic Die Hard (1989) director John McTiernan was at the helm at one the 1980s defining sci-fi classics. From the moment Predator begins, McTiernan’s aesthetic choices leap from the screen. Golden sunsets, blue hews of choppers flying low over hostile jungles and the red lit chopper full contrast the rich green blanket of the dense forest. The great gritty aesthetic is paired with ominous tracking through still jungles and evokes the feeling that the most unseen terror is around every corner. It’s also a feat to elicit perfectly pitched performances from the cast with such massive egos (and biceps).