Monday, May 27, 2013

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Predator


Back in 1987, John McTiernan directed what some have described as "the manliest movie ever made", called "Predator". Well, you won't find me challenging that notion as its machismo was the first thing I noticed as I watched it.
The film tells the story of an elite special forces team that is sent on a mission to rescue hostages in wild Central American jungle territory. Leading the charge is "Dutch", played by the ultimate brawny action hero - Arnold Schwarzenneger. Unfortunately, they soon find out there is an extraterrestrial creature lurking nearby.
The overall concept of the film seems to embody the persona of the muscular, uber-manly Schwarzennegger. This is best encapsulated by an early scene where Schwarzenegger reunites with an equally hardbodied friend and they engage in a prolonged handshake. The camera zooms in to emphasize Arnold's bulging biceps, signalling the slightly vapid script to come. The plot is all about the action, forgoing thematic depth for frequent gunplay. The dialogue almost seems incidental to the plot, although Schwarzenegger's line delivery is a constant source of amusement. Again, his blank, simplistic lines are well suited to the basic premise of the story.
Truly, there's not much to the script apart from a bunch guys trying to kill an alien. There is virtually no time spent on exposition before the troops are launched into dangerous territory. After that, much of the onscreen activity involves trekking through the jungle, interspersed with moments of rapid gunfire.
Now, although the screenwriting is unremarkable, the direction is still impressive. There is a definite sense of impending danger and the atmosphere reminded me of the visceral immediacy of films like "Platoon". McTiernan demonstrates assured, purposeful direction through the film's tight pacing, proving vital to the success of the film. For all its moments of excessive violence, there is always a sense of firm control of the material. It's for this reason that it never feels like a cheap, pulpy "B movie".
Overall, it's a fine film if you are looking for a straightforward actioner. I would have personally preferred a more elaborate script, but it's perfectly satisfying for what it is.

This film is part of my List of Shame.

3 comments:

  1. Nice pick! The movie is a lot of fun and I agree with you about McTiernan's direction.

    Robert Rodriguez's unofficial sequel that came out a few years ago was a good time too. It's definitely a rewatchable action-er.

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