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87. EMPIRE MAGAZINE GREATEST: Predator

February 15, 2018

Director: John McTiernan

Screenplay: Jim Thomas, John Thomas

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Richard Chaves, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Shane Black, Kevin Peter Hall

Runtime: 107 Minutes

 

Original UK Release: 1988

 

★★★★☆

 

What seemed to begin with an offhand joke concerning the absurd direction of the Rocky series eventually evolved into one of the 1980s more absurdly enjoyable action films.

 

The screenplay by both Jim and John Thomas uses an incredibly basic plot setup as a means of telling its story with fun and interesting characters, the time spent in their company is what makes the ride such an enjoyable – if not inherently deep – action romp. The one-liners are genuinely memorable and funny even without a sense of absurdist irony, and the uber-masculine attributes of the film’s overexcited aesthetic and glorification of the body is just hugely enjoyable to watch.

 

Especially when the dialogue is being led by legendary performances from Arnold Schwarzenegger as leading man, Dutch, and Carl Weathers’ Dillon. Even amongst the likes of Bill Duke, Richard Chaves, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham and the terrific Shane Black, Elpidia Carrillo manages to register with personality as the sole female voice, Anna Gonsalves.

 

The design of the creature is encouragingly different in look and in approach to its character; a tribal warrior with a set criteria of rules and attributes, an agile and effective hunter with enhanced technologies to challenge the strength and brute force of our protagonists. Kevin Peter Hall takes up the physical duties as The Predator and leaves an incredibly memorable impression on the audience as the looming alien threat.

 

John McTiernan’s direction sets him out to be one of the decades finest action directors with efficient visual storytelling, a gorgeous location and terrific violence. Alan Silvestri’s outstanding orchestral score is actually a great deal better than a film of this calibre possibly deserves, but with the score, the film feels so much larger than one bound to its schlocky genre roots especially in its apocalyptic third act.

 

It’s sadly a film series of diminishing returns (so far), but Predator is a drippy and testosterone stacked sandwich of a movie that genuinely satisfies and thrills.

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