The Capitol acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. We respectfully acknowledge their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. We also acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

Predator (1987)

Sent to Central America by the US government, a soldier sets out to rescue a group of politicians and soon discovers that something has gone terrifyingly wrong.

It would be hard to come across someone that wouldn’t find the ugly mug of Predator instantly recognisable. Despite the franchise turning 35 in August this year, the series remains as alive as it ever was in popular culture as a staple of modern horror, action and sci-fi films. With the release of its confusingly titled prequel, Prey (2022), the extraterrestrial creature and its roots as a cinematic force has been injected back into the conversation. To appreciate the journey that the iconic hunter has taken, it’s worth revisiting the genre-bending introduction to the franchise: Predator (1987), directed by John McTiernan.

At the time, people knew what they were getting into when seeing an Arnold Schwarzenegger flick, but instead of carnage with bullets and black eyes, it was acclaimed that Predator offered solid violence with mystery and fear. This dive into the jungle was said to blend the genres of action, horror and sci-fi, all complementing each other in a fresh and original way. Revisiting this now, these elements appear to counteract one another instead of complement.

The action is very hit-or-miss for the most part, as we get one disposable action sequence quite early on, with enough gratuitous pratfalls to make one wonder if these soldiers intentionally throw themselves off of tall places. On top of this we get one-liners, but Arnie’s are few and far between – nowhere near as fun as those uttered in similar fare from the time, like Commando (Mark L. Lester, 1985), and The Running Man (Paul Michael Glaser, 1987) which came out the same year as Predator.

But as a foundation in the horror lexicon, the film does not deliver nearly as much as its reputation promises. As entertaining and jovial as the cast of soldiers are, at no point is one convinced that they are real people, suspense being devoid as they are akin to cartoon characters to be picked off by the big baddie. Contrary to popular opinion, the casting of Arnie does not work for this film. The same plasma beam that cuts the arm off of Karl Weathers bounces off of Arnie’s skin like a Nerf bullet, acting as a microcosm for Schwarzenegger’s conventional plot armour. Predator’s stakes prove absent as we follow an invincible protagonist.

Yet aligning with genre tropes, the final act and climax proves aesthetically unique, saving the experience of the film. The showdown between man and alien, displaying a parallel of hunters, ultimately shows that will to survive is all it takes to push oneself to see another day.

Want to watch Predator? Click HERE!