Predator (1987)

First there was nothing but a desolate wasteland of dark void. The expanse of existence was simply a sea of monotonous pitch black tunnels, leading aimlessly into each other like the sadistic maze inside the bowels of the universe endlessly echoing in response as humanity out in desperate, searching for answers amidst the uncertainty as we called out... “hello..hello...helllooo??” The universe did not answer.

 

Then it was 1987 and there was Predator. The universe HAD answered. With a masterpiece.

 

The movie opens in an ambiguous Central American warzone. It’s a little weird they frequently refer to the area they are in as “Central America” since whatever, that’s seven whole countries and it’s pretty big, but hey, so are Arnold’s biceps so don’t overthink it. Carl Weathers enters as if he has wandered from the set of Rocky, didn’t quite leverage his friendship with Stallone enough to make it into Rambo, and has somehow emerged as second-billed in Schwarzenegger’s next action movie; Commando with Aliens: Yes, We Have Vests, I mean.. Predator. Carl Weathers is a CIA agent and he’s all buddy buddy with Schwarzenegger (his character is “Dutch”, which is a surprisingly fat-sounding name, but we are offered no explanation as to its origin; as a matter of fact, aside from basic plot-advancement devices, this movie offers little to NO wild exposition- more on that later). Our little Dutch boy has a crackerjack team of non-fatties that are experts in what they do, which is strictly rescue missions; THEY AH NOT MÜRCENAHRIES. Carl Weathers recruits the fellas for a mission and insists he is coming along to supervise despite the fact that his biceps are nowhere near as veiny and voluminous as Dutch’s. I don’t remember what pretense Carl Weathers lures Dutch and the gang to “Val Verde” under, but there again is little exposition before they pack up their Jeeps, signifying they are rebels who opt to drive WITHOUT doors, and they outtie.

Dutch’s crew is a rainbow coalition of characters- sorry, I meant caricatures. There’s the nerd who talks about his “girlfriend’s” huge pussy, Jesse Ventura who throws the word “faggot” around willy-nilly so you perhaps you forget that he’s sporting a mustache and a snake-skinned cowboy hat, a guy who looks like Native American Elvis Presley crossed with a hipster at Coachella who might have missed the mark and veered into culturally insensitive, some rando with war stripes painted across his face, a super-dark skinned dude named Mac who has the secret hots for Jesse Ventura, maybe one more white dude with a non-speaking role? I forget, but new to the team and not totally accepted as he might have let his biceps go soft, we have Carl Weathers. The music is lighthearted, spirits are high, and nothing bad will happen to any of these bros. all of these dudes are absolutely going to live for sure! All these dudes get to the choppah, and with very little understanding of what they are setting out to accomplish (maybe they know exactly what they’re doing but I haven’t even the slightest fuck of a clue), our heroes enter the first stage of their journey.

They land somewhere in the jungle, and the gang’s resident tracker, Native American Elvis (the character’s actual name is Billy, I applaud this because I braced myself for an incredibly offensive name like “Long Bow” or “Brave Bear”- side note, the actor who plays Billy Elvis was actually a porn star before he took his first turn in action movies and he is in fact an actual Native American so maybe it’s only his diction and role in the group that is fed by stereotypes) is scoping out the jungle turf. He’s able, like the secret fashionista diva roach I’m sure lies somewhere in his backstory, to deduce that the footprints surrounding their entry point are made by US troops, not guerillas. Maybe I’m not the best listener, but up to this point we don’t know what the fuck is really going on. They’re heavily armed, they’re jacked as shit, and they’re looking for something; and boy do they find...something. They follow the US footprints and they find a fallen choppah. Shortly after the wreckage is a trio of corpses hanging from their toes from a tree, sans skins. It’s reeeal gross. Dutch takes one of their dog tags off and recognizes the guy, “JIM HOPPAH” and that hits a little close to home because once upon a yesteryear, he trained this guy; he remembers because the name rhymes with choppah and he was a green beret. While they’re standing around conjecturing about what might have happened, the camera switches to an overhead thermal camera POV and the music gets a little more dramatic; Predator’s got his fugly eyes on you. The hunt is afoot.


Dutch and the gang turn to Carl Weathers and are like WTF is this shit? Where are the hostages or whatever it is we were supposed to be doing here? We didn’t ask a lot of questions getting into this, but boy do we have questions now! They all seem to shrug it off and keep marching until they get to a guerilla village. There they see some white guy get shot and they’re like “oh shit, was that a hostage?” and they start to slither through the mud in so they can get close enough to tear shit up. Dutch oven sneaks up to a truck, which is not much bigger than him but it is no match for his super strength. He lifts the truck up and sticks a bomb in that bad boy and then there’s a lot of gun action and explosions. My eyes glazed over as I tried to remember if they were trying to rescue hostages or nah and there were a few more minutes of explosions and helicopters catching on fire before Dutch walks in on Carl Weathers leafing through a bunch of the rebel’s documents in what appears to be their shanty-village office space. Dutch busts in and is pissed; Carl Weathers didn’t come here to snap necks! He’s just trying to find paperwork for his CIA desk job! Weathers is soft and Dutch feels duped, here he and his boys are in this self-proclaimed MEAT GRINDAH for a few guerilla files. I suspected there are no hostages to be rescued, and they’re going home with nothing but a file of guerilla W-4 forms. There is very little dialog in this movie but every line, while doing nothing to advance the plot, is gold. They aren’t quite one-liners and they aren’t laugh-out-loud funny, but Dutch is clearly having the time of his life offering us the following memorable moments:

 

 

 

English might be his second language, but he’s fluent in attitude as an maladjusted teenager. The movie could just as well be a feel-good action comedy, like select scenes from Terminator 2: Judgement Day when Edward Furlong is cracking wise and trying to teach a robot how to talk like a street-smart early 90’s grungy tween. Instead, barely half an hour has crept by and we’ve only scratched the surface on what’s to come. They take an unarmed non-white woman captive and we’re back to the aerial Predator POV thermal camera. Predator fixates on the heat signature of a squashed scorpion and you can tell he’s real sad. Predator loves scorpions. Also, if you think about it Predator is incredibly progressive; he doesn’t see people for the color of their skin, but rather their body heat index and the size of their skull. It’s beautiful really. This scorpion, having a vivid heat signature that makes it very near and dear to Predator (most likely because of how fugly they both are) and thus seals the deal for Arnold and his crew; Predator will kill them for their crimes against scorpions.

They’re making their way back to the rendezvous point and the lady prisoner (who doesn’t have many lines but I tend to think that’s less about chauvinism and more to do with the poetic minimalism of Predator’s dialog and their complete unwillingness to insert practically any exposition into their dialog) starts struggling a little bit while she’s being dragged by Hawkins, the guy who keeps cracking jokes about his [unconfirmed and possibly Canadian/fictitious] girlfriend’s larger than conventional genitalia. A shimmer of CGI invisibility and all of a sudden Hawkins goes from big pussy jokes (didn’t think that was a thing, but aight) to being viciously mauled and dragged away by an unknown assailant. At this point we the audience know there is something in this woods that ain’t human, but we have to play ball for a little longer while our boys try and figure out what lurks in the vast jungle of the ambiguous Central American wilderness. The rest of the squad finds the hostage lady sans glasses nerd and they’re like WHAT HAPPENED, WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED WHERE’S THE NERD? ONE MINUTE HE WAS CRACKING HILAAAAARIOUS JOKES AND THE NEXT HE’S COMPLETELY GONE AND THERE’S NOTHING BUT A HUGE TRAIL OF BLOOD IN HIS WAKE IS HE OK? Lady hostage doesn’t appear to speak English, but luckily one of the jabrones speaks whatever language she does and she just keeps saying “the jungle did it!” and it’s making everything livid. Basically, it’s like when a foreign person doesn’t understand what you’re saying so you just speak louder and slower hoping that all of a sudden they’ll get it. I think one of the B-list white nobodies dies at some point during this time. They look around and I think it’s Blaine who finds Hawkin’s shitty naked dead body. Then he sees a skunk and gets blasted with plasma omitted from Predator’s chest/gun thing. Blaine’s gay black lover, Mac, finds THAT body and whips out his machine gun dick and levels out the jungle until you hear Predator be like, “oh damn, that stings” and he bleeds radioactive blood on the leaves. They later see that crap and they’re like daaaaaymn this is not a human!!!!

Mac is real sad about his buddy, mostly because they were a couple and kind of like Michael Jordan’s number was retired after he stopped playing in the NBA, now no one else is allowed to wear a python cowboy hat/mustache combo ever again. Finally, the team’s woman captive starts gabbing about how this happens sometimes when it gets too hot, some rando just shimmers around the jungle and snatches um up and turns them inside out. This whole time Billy the Tracker has been acting super scaredy and squirrely. Armed with new vague information from their prisoner, they decide they have no other choice but to trap and ambush this son of a bitch jungle creature and let it know they have muscles. Big ones.

At some point the movie pans back to Predator, who was shot in the jungle razing, and he whips out a little first aid kit and starts sewing his wounds up. It strikes me as a missed opportunity by Johnson & Johnson, not putting their marketing hat in the ring and making a Predator-brand first aid kit themselves to coincide with the release of this movie, but I’m sure once the executives saw that scene they fired their licensed products marketing division over this egregious oversight. We don’t get nearly enough insight into really any of the characters in this movie, but one I wish we got to focus more on is the trials and tribulations of our dear buddy Predator the Radioactive Blooded Jungle Stalker. What kind of home has he made for himself in the ambiguous Central American jungle? Where are his family, where does he lay his hat at night, and what does he dream of?

Cut back to the humans, whom we are supposed to be rooting for. Full disclosure, I only care about Arnold and Predator. All the other Mike & Ike nobodies deserve to be Predator food because I literally know nothing about them aside from who their boss is. So far, the Predator has proven himself to be the true king of non-descript Central America, and the other guys are just kind of swimming upstream searching for relevancy. Billy isn’t friggin afraid of no man, but he knows, like we all know.. P’dator ain’t no man. However, the verdict is if the Predator can bleed then they can kill it. What they kill is a boar. Carl Weathers loses their hostage again but they get her back; honestly there’s so much crap going on while they’re traipsing around in the jungle that is so boring and a waste of screen time, but it boils down to they’re trying to get to the choppah because they’re so deep in the jungle, and there is SO little exposition, and maybe only three people are still alive at this point? Those remaining guyz boy scout the shit out of their camp site and make it into one big booby trap in a true Dateline To Catch a Predator meets Home Alone fashion. They all showcase their biceps while they pull down trees (calm down, they’re pretty thin and springy trees) to create their Rube Goldberg sabotage plan, and one of the guys (Billy? Or did he die already? I can’t remember, I don’t care about any of Arnold’s minions. Except maybe Lieutenant Pussy Jokes, his absence is acutely felt but maybe not so much missed) is revealed to have a really strange nervous tick of taking a razor like a lady Bic and shaving a patch of his chin over and over while they’re waiting for the Predator to strike. This obvious allusion to what I assume is an all-consuming mental illness that we are catching but a glimpse of, as I may remind you there has been no exposition about this character’s development and they’ve maybe only even mentioned his name one or two times, so maybe it’s best to leave this crazy alone because he dies soon after anyway.

The Predator, or “The Demon Who Makes Trophy of Man”, which was too long to be the movie’s title and doesn’t quite fit on the poster, almost gets caught in their tree-trap, but then obviously he doesn’t because he’s probably been invisible and watching them build this god damn trap from his invisible high rise jungle condo, Mac gets loopy and Carl Weathers goes after him and then we see Predator following them and being coy...until then he sets his laser beam target on them both and Mac gets shot with a plasma blob and Carl Weathers gets his dang arm chopped off before Predator finishes him off! Everyone else is like Mac who? Those people left us and therefore are dead so….Let’s get to the choppah! While they’re headed to the exit point’s general direction, Billy, who I guess is still alive, decides this is pointless. He wasn’t top billed, only Arnold was, and obviously he is going to be the next to die. This part I do not understand in. the. slightest. Billy cuts himself across the chest and throws out his gun and basically throws himself at the mercy of Predator and Arnold tells their lady captive not to pick up his gun because the Predator will not come after her if she isn’t armed because there is no sport in that. If you remember back to when Lt. Pussy Jokes got picked off, he was armed and she wasn’t/he got murdered and she didn’t but she was still a captive and her whole family is probably dead, just a guess because we don’t know what her deal is either. Regardless, the Predator did not kill her at that juncture. I don’t understand how Arnold comes to the conclusion that the Predator won’t come after her at all if she just doesn’t pick up a weapon. Uh, maybe the Predator is an equal opportunist, we don’t have much of a control sample to judge this from, that literally only happened one time where he (or is the right pronoun “it?” I don’t know why I’ve been assuming this particular gender binary, but I think this creature is ruthless and ugly so by default I think gets the masculine, though we see no peen I REPEAT WE SEE NO PEEN, nor obviously any kind of exposition as to how Predator self-identifies) saw someone unarmed and did not kill them, and as any ameteur scientist worth their salt in scientific method will tell you, CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION! But in this case maybe it does because she gets on the dang choppah and Arnold gets chased and jumps in a waterfall and the PREDATOR FRIGGIN JUMPS IN AFTER HIM.

I wish I didn’t have to recount the part of the movie before it’s just Predator V. Dutch. I honestly wish the first part of the movie didn’t even happen. In a way it didn’t, because I don’t know any of the characters or what their deal is, namely the titular character, who seems like he just likes being a dick-swinging alien with a panache for collecting the poor man’s Damien Hirst sculptures (the Predator currency trade must be weak, so he can’t afford to bedazzle his human skull collection, but it’s ok). Anyway, the rest of this movie is gold, platinum, hall of fame, magic, wonderful, supreme, all-time, and delightful. After Dutch jumps into the waterfall, he emerges covered in mud. He looks real good. Basically a two-for-one special, not only is the mud a soothing moisturizing treatment, but it also shields Dutch from Predator’s thermal camera; he can’t see our muddy buddy now!!!! The Predator walks right past him, so Arnold knows he is invisible when he lathers up in that brown gold and the game is truly afoot!!!! Since Predator jumped into the water, his tech gear is all frizzled and he can’t turn invisible anymore, so he has to slither back to his tree palace. Predator is slowly gentrifying the neighborhood with his alien Apple watch, cool hairstyle, and enviable fashion sense, but the rent is still fairly cheap since he keeps his pad on the DL with his invisibility. We see spines and skulls of all his former prey and this is a pretty shallow guy, it’s obvious he only likes guys with big skulls.

Back to Dutch. He’s gone full blown primal and re-ups his mud game and he is ready to make his homemade death trap. When sha’boy is done building his elaborate game of Swiss Family Robinson Mouse Trap, he lets out a call to let his alien opponent know he’s out there and running this shit, this is his jungle now and when he’s done with it he’ll make sure there’s no room for yuppie Predator sprawl and everything will be zoned protected jungle war land so that a Predator Starbucks (™) won’t pop up on every corner and guerilla villages will be safe to be as war-torn as they deem necessary without fear of retribution from an alien species! Next, Predator looks like a fool. Predators aren’t exactly known for their hearing, but even considering that he can’t see Dutch worth a damn with his mud mask, Dutch isn’t exactly being a quiet little church mouse. Predator still gets tricked into Dutch’s trap and he is pisssssssed. He chases Arnold to the edge of the water and Arnold is forced yet again to jump in and all his mud makeup comes off and he’s not invisible to the alien any more but now Predator is like wow, well played; real recognize real. He isn’t some two-bit Biff with a chip on his shoulder; this human has a big ol’ skull and he pulled a fast one on HIM, THE predator, ultimate human killing machine, spine collector and first aid extraordinaire. He respects Arnold, and he wants to murder him in a brutally honest way that lets him regather his pride a little bit. He takes off his armor, drops his plasma shooter, and then he takes off his mask and it’s like Arnold has been at this jungle bar for hours (days, really) and now last call has been shouted, the lights have come on and we see what he’s really working with and it’s like what I imagine a rotten egg would look like if it had a face. Arnold is like WHOA here I am respecting your brains and I’m thinking you’ll be like a 7 but you are in reality a 1, 2 tops if you slapped on some Kardashian kontour makeup.

Arnold and the Predator face off and Arnold is getting the absolute shit kicked out of him, but it’s okay he’s got traps laying around the jungle still! He lures Predator into a log trap which doesn’t work, but then gets the ugly fucker in a second trap!!! He gets him good!!!! He will keep his skull another day!!!! He’s standing over Predator being like “hey I respect you, I want you to die though because it’s really exhausting fighting you. You’re definitely going to die now, right?” Then we hear this creepy laugh and then alien numbers start counting down on his alien Apple watch and Arnold realizes that oh shit he’s in self destruct mode!!!!! Predator is an alien extremist and Dutch barely escapes but he does and then he gets to the choppah and lady captive is there and nothing bad will ever happen to him again. Only now he has no team and he’s going to have to tell HR about the new job vacancies since his guys are deadzo, possibly talk to legal about how to handle similar situations from that perspective, ya know, just to cover all his bases, and they will have to start recruiting for new talent, which is a costly and time consuming process that is really going to affect the company margin in Q4. In the meantime, he’s going to have to regroup and figure out how to better hone his management style, maybe take a leadership seminar or similar professional development, and if he’s smart use this unique experience to spice up his resume and rebrand himself so maybe he can get a job that he can really grow in because ya know, he’s alive. RIP, crew. You were boring and Arnold carried you as long as he could, but in the end only the biggest biceps paired with the biggest skull could survive. It’s just good business.