The Predator was portrayed by Jean-Claude Van Damme. Which means this is Schwarzenegger versus the guns from Brussels, in a film about a squad of army rangers on an operation in a Guatemalan rainforest (shot on-location in Mexico) who find themselves stalked and hounded by an interplanetary combatant; a space invading soldier. The special-ops crew (Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura) – led by Major Dutch (Schwarzenegger) arrive in the cutthroat world of wilderness on an operation to liberate a community. The situation bursts with despair as the special ops crew get assailed on by an imperceptible, extraterrestrial assassin. Predator is a cinematic spectacle; a concert in a jungle amid combat; a fireworks display greater than Independence Day. It’s a significant film because of its genre-bending; a classical war story intertwined with horror; the mythological sense of man versus paranormal.
John McTiernan (Die Hard, Basic) directs a genre-bending film that commences with war and transitions into Sci-Fi. At its core, Predator maintains significance because of its plot development. The story is about an interstellar space rocket unloading a star-shaped capsule into earth. The spacecraft capsule houses an extraterrestrial Raider sent to hunt a dangerous species: humans. The most lethal man on earth is considered a battle-tested, loose-cannoned combat war hero – a soldier. The military raid of the Guerrilla camp in Act 1 exploits a right-wing political influence popular in 1987 – the year Oliver Stone’s Vietnam War epic Platoon won Best Picture at the Oscars. The ‘predator’ terminates each soldier, one after another in Act 2; and Act 3 is purely Schwarzenegger’s “Dutch” versus The Predator. This otherworldly marauder hunts with intention; it doesn’t kill for sport; it slays for plaques and crowns; a mission on behalf of his intergalactic assignment to earth.
The musical composition by Alan Silvestri (Back to the Future) heightens the adventure. It’s symphonic; orchestrated; sounds like a concerto. When juxtaposing sight with sound, the score is almost too much of a sonata for the images of a predator sent to hunt down soldiers on earth. Ultimately, the sound design of blazing gunfire intermixed with Alan Silvestri’s startling musical score results in some intensely earsplitting audio production. Moreover, the ‘predator’ bleeds neon green and possesses anthropomorphic sensitivities. The ‘predator’ is chameleonic; it morphs into jungle greenery with camouflage. It’s a hunter; executing combat soldiers one by one. A behemoth lizard, striding bipedally through the tropical wild until it meets his match with Schwarzenegger’s “Dutch” playing the predator at its own game of chameleonic warfare. Though critically rejected, John McTiernan’s Predator gained success at the box office and garnered a cult following simply because of the film’s emphasis on suspense over action. The gradual unveiling of the predator, from its heat altering perspective to its inconspicuous hiddenness; followed by a breastplate/suit of armor to the climactic battle where it removes its shielded mask – revealing its monstrously distorted expression. “You’re one ugly motherfucker!” Dutch says, after he defeats Predator into a blastoff departure for the cosmos, sending it back to its galaxy.
Predator grossed $98,268,458 on a $15 million budget (not including inflation adjustments).