When we were polling folks for Man Movies that absolutely had to be reviewed, one of the movies that kept coming up again and again was Predator. It seems to occupy a similar hallowed ground for nearly everyone we spoke to. So when it came time to review it (yes, we'd all seen it before), it came as quite a shock to this reviewer. You see, dear reader, you probably haven't seen it in quite a while (beginning to end). It is not as good as you remember it. Don't mistake that inflammatory statement for dislike. The movie is good, and very deserving of a review on the Man Movie Guide. It is just a very flawed film that is airbrushed into classic status by nostalgia and a distance from actually having seen it.
Predator is a roll call movie that is partially derailed by the sheer star power of a mid-80s Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold plays "Dutch" (likely a way of haphazardly writing off the fact that a US Military officer sports an accent more Colonel Klink than Sanders). His team of special ops falls flat due to a lack of screen time for each of them, but most of them get at least one chance to shine and show off their machismo before being offed as fodder. Sonny Landham plays stoic Native American tracker "Billy", who is so hardcore that he mutilates himself before standing up to the titular alien hunter. Jesse Ventura (yes, that makes two future governors in the movie) isn't a very good character, but he does have one of cinema's all-time coolest guns in the movie: a mini-gun with an overhand joystick-esque trigger fed by a metal backpack full of bullets. And Apollo Creed himself, Carl Weathers, plays a one-time operative turned pencil pusher who gets it in the coolest/funniest scene in the movie [Note: This movie is about an alien hunter that picks off people one by one. Not many people survive. That doesn't count as a spoiler so get over it.]
So the pacing of the movie is off due to bad editing. So the music by Alan Silvestri sounds as if it was written for an entirely different movie. So the continuity of much of the action is uneven and subject to interpretation. Predator will not soon be mistaken for high art. But let's talk about what it does have going for it. This is vintage Arnold, where he is kick ass and spitting one-liners like only he can. It is a 7 foot alien with dreadlocks blowing the shit out of people with lasers in a jungle and taking pieces of them as trophies. It is explosions and machine guns and a dense and verdant jungle belonging to some anonymous South American country. It is a popcorn movie at heart, and will never allow you to treat it as anything else. The movie is damn fun; and that's probably why you remember it more for what it is than what it isn't.