The Alien quadrilogy isn’t the only series of movies that delivers thrills and kills, as the three Predator flicks offer an even higher bodycount and more sci-fi action.
(USA 1987, director: John McTiernan)
A special forces team is sent on a rescue mission for a crashed helicopter crew in the South American jungle and is soon hunted by an extraterrestrial.
80ies action movies have that certain gung-ho make-things-explode and turn-people-into-cannon-fodder attitude, and while this can be seen as gratuitous violence for its own sake, it’s also immensely satisfying to just have a very good time without caring much about the story. Predator is one such film that doesn’t spend much time on character or plot development, but focuses on action set-pieces. Starting out as a war movie and then turning into a sci-fi horror survival scenario, it works perfectly.
Of course dialogues are often as bad as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting and Austrian accent, but when it comes to the “Äktschn”, one forgets about this instantly. Sure, there’s a lot of unnecessarily long shooting and pathos, but the movie really comes into its own when Arnie and the Predator come face to face. It might take a while, but like the best action movies, including Tiernan’s first blockbuster Die Hard, the one-vs.-one combat encounters are brutal and fun to watch. Even after all these years, the predator design is convincing, something that can’t be said about most people in rubber costumes portraying creatures from another planet.
(USA 1990, director: Stephen Hopkins)
Amid a gang war in L.A., the alien predator starts his own killing spree, and it’s up to Lieutenant Mike Harrigan and his police mates to bring it down.
Sequels to action movies always try to deliver more thrills and often kills. While Predator 2 is nowhere near as suspenseful and impressive as Aliens with its memorable set-pieces, it does a good job of giving the predator more screen-time. The change from jungle to city works well, although there isn’t much tension here. This might have to do with the gang war plot which tries to mix a less successful cop story with sci-fi and action survival themes, or it might have to do with the music being so repetitive that it doesn’t fit certain scenes, i.e. bombastic tunes accompany the main character when he just walks through a crime scene.
Creepy atmosphere is replaced with all-out action, and while most of the characters are rather forgettable, there are enough heavy shoot-outs to entertain the hardened action fan. Gratuitous violence and some gore are everything one hopes for. Danny Glover might not be the best hero or very likable (compared to the Lethal Weapon series in which he really shone as an actor as well), but he fits the urban environment. Even if the story about rivaling gangs, government conspiracies, and a bit of background info on the predators often feels convoluted, there is always something exciting happening, even with some dry humor and situational comedy thrown in which clearly shows that everyone involved in the production of the movie knew that this wasn’t high art, but pure entertainment.
(USA 2010, director: Nimród Antal)
A group of elite warriors with memory loss parachutes into a jungle on an alien planet and starts fighting for survival, as the fauna and alien predators start hunting them down.
With a sequel showing up 20 years later, one could argue that it was time for a new cash-in to revive the franchise. But as it turns out, this movie has everything that made the first great, with adding a familiar but also alien setting. The idea of having a team that consists of psychopaths and seasoned fighters is interesting, although one shouldn’t expect any deep characterizations. They’re simply used as either cannon fodder or to put down alien lifeforms.
Moving at a rather fast pace, there isn’t much plot or character development, but the story has a few twists and surprises, while there’s a good mix of suspense, shoot-outs, and hand-to-hand combat. Even if one finds it difficult to establish an emotional connection to any of the characters, they’re not annoying. Brody might not have the oversized muscles of Schwarzenegger, but his acting is much better and he does a pretty good job of the survival hero. All in all, this is a surprisingly well-made movie with all the gore and action one expects. If only the finale wouldn’t have hinted at a continuation of a story that would never materialize…
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