Predator (1987) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Predator (1987) Directed by John McTiernan. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves and Shane Black.


‘The hunter becoming the hunted’ is a concept that immediately tweaks my interest. Add a science-fiction slant to it and I’m there, front and centre. John McTiernan’s violent popcorn movie is everything you might hope. Released a year after James Cameron’s Aliens, it continues the trend of military might vs an extraterrestrial foe. Led by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Dutch), a covert team of wisecracking mercenaries are sent on a mission, deep in the Central American jungle. Little do they know, something else is lurking in the undergrowth.

For the first 20-odd minutes, Predator plays like any other 1980’s action vehicle. It’s all helicopters, muscles and macho bullshit. It’s just like Rambo: First Blood Part II, only with the charisma of a cigar-chewing Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers – an early test of strength between the pair establishes who’s the daddy. The hangover from Vietnam lurks in the background as the men fly out to the jungle to face more than they bargained for.

Outside of The Terminator series, this is perhaps the signature Schwarzenegger piece. It is the role which features some of his most famous lines “if it bleeds we can kill it…”“get to da choppa! “. It is also the role that he most effectively inhabits with the dual force of his physicality and larger than life charms. He casually quips like Bond, but you better believe he can hit harder than George Foreman.

As a movie set the jungle of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico makes for a stunningly cinematic backdrop for the action to take place against. It also provides the perfect playground for the alien to stalk and test its prey as it watches Arnie’s team of commando’s from the treetops – we’re even treated to Predator-cam, which is effective in contributing to the sense of an other-worldy threat.

As characters are brutally picked-off, there is a predictable sense that it’s all heading for some kind of epic showdown, yet given the various elements, it doesn’t detract from the growing suspense. Pitting a hulking Schwarzenegger against a formidable 8-foot alien foe makes for some great thrills, and while Predator isn’t going to bother Alien in the all-time classic stakes, it’s still a superior sci-fi actioner, with a solid premise and endlessly quotable dialogue.



About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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29 Responses to Predator (1987) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. That Other Critic says:

    Great review! Quoting Predator is the best. My favorite line: “I ain’t got time to bleed.”

  2. filmfunkel says:

    A few buddies, a quick cookout, and a double feature of Predator & Commando. That’s a Saturday afternoon that’s hard to beat. XD

    Great review. Most of the dialogue qualifies as a great quote (even if they’re pretty inappropriate for a public setting). : )

    • garethrhodes says:

      Now I’m wishing this was how my day was panning out; sat outside with some pals eating grilled food, sipping on a few beers while watching Schwarzenegger films as the sun sets. Who says romance is dead!?

      • filmfunkel says:

        That’s awesome! I would never have thought romance that way, but you’re absolutely correct. You just made my week. : D

  3. This is the first movie I ever remember watching. I was way too young to understand some of the jokes Hawkins makes. I rewatched it recently and one thing that bothered me was seeing the Predator’s point of view really early in the film. I thought it takes away from Arnold’s realization that he should cover himself in mud. (That happened in this one right?). It’s a small thing though and I still love the movie.

    • garethrhodes says:

      This was your first movie!? Wow, what an introduction! How old were you if you don’t mind me asking…?

      You’re right, this is one where he covers himself in mud to avoid detection. That a really suspenseful scene the first time you see it. It’s always interesting to get a new perspective on things. I didn’t find the placement of the Predator POV shots troublesome in those terms, I suppose I was just swept along by the thing.

      Thank you very much for stopping by to contribute, its appreciated- great to hear from you.

      • I don’t remember exactly how old I was but I don’t think I was much older than 10. I probably saw a few movies before (mostly kids movies of course) but this is the first I remember. I’m not surprised it stands out. I don’t think the POV is distracting on first view but when I rewatched it I was thinking about people who saw it for the first time. When they first see the Predator’s POV and were impressed I wanted to say “no no…just wait….it’s gonna be so much cooler in a second.” So my reaction against the POV is more a fanboy reaction than anything. I hope that makes sense.

  4. Great review and awesome movie. I thought the new one wasn’t that bad, though this one is the superior Predator.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you very much! Yes, I thought the Robert Rodriguez film was OK. I liked the twist. It fell short in some ways, but definitely much better than Predator 2. Didn’t care for that one.

  5. Jay says:

    Oh god. Now my husband is doing bad impressions and you tubing Get to the choppaa instead of doing work like he is supposed to.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Oh, I’m sorry if I contributed to that. For what it’s worth, I’ve been trying to perfect my Schwarzenegger impression for years. Still nowhere near…I sound like a drunk Welshman.

  6. Chris Evans says:

    Great review Gareth, another all-time favourite of mine. The Predator-cam moments are great, holding back on the full reveal of the titular hunter. Predator 2 and Predators are also good entertainment but this one will always come out on top…if it bleeds, we can kill it…

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you – we have such similar tastes. This is pure popcorn fun for me. More action films should be set in the jungle. I’m surprised Arnie hasn’t returned to this series. When Stallone did his comeback, he did Rocky and Rambo. For me, it would have made sense for Arnie to play an ageing Dutch, instead of making stuff like The Last Stand and the lamentable Sabotage. Boy that film was awful.

      • Chris Evans says:

        Still can’t bring myself to watch Sabatoge, ah well at least Terminator: Genysis looks promising and Shane Black is working on a new Predator film…could he lure Arnie back?

      • garethrhodes says:

        Did you see the new trailer for Terminator: Genysis? If not, please avoid it. It shows waaaay too much. I was angry with myself for watching it, actually. I can get a a bit preachy with my friends about avoiding trailers, as they often act as a summary of the events of the plot. I caved in this time, for some inexplicable reason. Big mistake. I now feel like I know the entire plot.

        I didn’t know that about Shane Black. Wow. That’s cool. I like his style. I’ll keep tabs on that. Thank you for letting me know.

      • Chris Evans says:

        Luckily I’ve avoided it as I’ve heard there’s a massive spoiler! Tbh I’m the same when it comes to trailers I tend to watch the first couple and then resist as there’s far too many these days!

  7. gloganwriter says:

    Never get tired of this movie!

  8. Dude the cleaner says:

    I loved that one saw it again not long ago. I saw it at the theater back then. I think I saw it a total of 4 times so far.

  9. Also originator of one of the greatest unused band names out there – “Goddamn Sexual Tyrannosaur”!

  10. Keith says:

    Probably my favorite Arnie film and I know that is saying a lot considering the first two Terminator pictures. It is just so much fun.

    “SOB is dug in like an Alabama tick”. There is my quote contribution.

    • garethrhodes says:

      It is a great amount of fun, probably more out-and-out fun than Terminator, but also more throwaway and less ingenious than those films, at least that’s what I think. Thank you for commenting, love the quote by the way.

  11. Ben says:

    Great movie. Haven’t seen it in a while but the whole final act with Arnie in the mud and a proper battle between the two is great. Shame the sequels were so poor. Seems Arnie was the real draw as opposed to the actual Predator himself.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Like the two other best films that Schwarzenegger was in T1 and T2, I think Predator has more to offer than just being an Arnie vehicle. You’re absolutely right though, the face-off between him and the alien is very suspenseful.

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