Film / Predator

"If it bleeds, we can kill it."

Predator is a 1987 sci-fi action/horror movie directed by John McTiernan. Its success spawned the multimedia Predator franchise.

Major "Dutch" Schaeffer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his elite mercenary "rescue" squad are sent to retrieve a cabinet minister held hostage in a Banana Republic during the late years of the Cold War. After slaughtering a group of guerillas, they discover the hostages are actually CIA agents and their employers have lied to them. But all of that takes a back seat once a mysterious, invisible enemy with weapons not of this Earth starts killing off Dutch's team one by one...

This film was a successful piece of action cinema because of its groundbreaking special effects, big-budget action sequences, and unique premise. Considered the manliest movie ever made, it's hard to argue the point: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers (of Rocky fame), and Jesse Ventura had major roles in the film, and were all very big, strong guys who were prone to bleed and sweat (though they ain't got time to bleed). On the other hand, the emphasis on big, sweaty men being sweaty with each other in the jungle makes it one of the most Ho Yay films of all time, perhaps second only to Schwarzenegger's own Commando. The manliness is also a Stealth Parody, however, because it all vanishes in an instant when the soldiers are no longer the top predators.

Predator ain't got time for tropes:

  • Agent Scully: Dillon has the most trouble buying that anything non-human is after them, until he sees it for himself.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: Though the Predator seems to observe some hunting rules for sport (for instance, not attacking unarmed people), the fact that its victims are armed is almost a technicality as their weapons are near useless in the face of the Predator's advanced technology. Even when it shows a measure of respect by fighting Dutch hand to hand without using its tech, its vast strength means it's a completely one sided fight Dutch has no chance of winning. Then there's the fact that upon being defeated by Dutch's trap, it tries to blow both of them up with a self-destruct, laughing as it does so.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The Jungle Hunter. Justified as its been eavesdropping on the team, recording some of the conversations then playing them back and parroting what someone standing near it said.
  • Ammunition Backpack: Blaine's gatling gun comes with an entire backpack magazine to feed it.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Dillon has an arm blasted off by the Predator, still firing the gun it was holding while still attached.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Mac's threat to Dillon:
      Mac: You're ghosting us motherfucker. I don't care who you are back in the world. You give away our position one more time, I'll bleed you, real quiet, an' leave you here. Got that?
    • Dutch's now famous declaration:
      Dutch: If it bleeds, we can kill it!
    • Before Dillon goes to fight the Predator:
      Dutch: You can't win this, Dillon.
      Dillon: Maybe I can get even.
  • Badass Crew: Dutch's team is an elite commando unit.
  • Badass Native: Billy and Poncho.
  • Banana Republic: This film is set in the fictional South American country of Val Verde, which was also featured in Commando and mentioned in Die Hard II.
  • Bash Brothers: Blain and Mac served in the same unit in Vietnam.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Dutch uses stealth tactics to defeat the Predator, though it isn't enough to win outright.
  • Being Watched: While Dutch and his team head for the rendezvous point, the Magical Native American Billy senses the title opponent watching them from the trees.
  • Big Bad: The Predator hunting everybody.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Poncho says this ("Que?!") when Anna told him "the jungle came alive and took [Hawkins]".
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Dillon. He uses his friendship with Dutch to get everyone sent to South America to undertake a mission under false pretenses.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Dutch and Anna escape and the Predator is killed, but Dutch's entire team was killed as well. The forlorn look Dutch gives at the very end makes it perfectly clear this sacrifice was a bit too much for him.
  • Black Best Friend: Mac is this to Blaine.
  • Black Guy Dies First: Averted, technically. Though played straight From a Certain Point of View, as Shane Black's character does indeed die first!
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: The Predator's gauntlet comes equipped with a pair of razor-sharp Wolverine Claws. They're even somewhat pliable, since the Predator uses them to wrap around Dutch's head while sneaking up on him.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: A strange example from the film's production: Fox's insurance company demanded that Sonny Landham could only be cast if he was accompanied by a bodyguard. Not to protect him, but to protect everyone else from him.
  • Booby Trap: Honestly, this film contains so many painstakingly intensive (and almost fetishistic) trap-building montages that it could be called Traps vs. Predator.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Hawkins starts off afflicted with this trope, though it doesn't help that he likes telling them to Billy, who seems to not possess a sense of humor at all. Averted later (somewhat) when he tells yet another vagina joke to Billy, who this time breaks character and lets loose a loud, hearty series of guffaws (which the Predator later mimics).
  • Cat Scare: Blain hears rustling foliage and readies his minigun, only to have it turn out to be a small animal. He rolls his eyes and turns away ... then promptly gets killed by the Predator's plasma gun.
  • Caught in a Snare: The team sets up a net trap to catch the Predator. It works, but not for long — he cuts himself free in seconds.
  • Clifftop Caterwauling: Dutch, to attract the Predator to his trap.
  • Credits Montage: The characters and actors are reviewed in a hilarious way, except for Dutch.
  • Crushing Handshake: When Dutch and Dillon meet after many years apart, they crush each other's hands in an competition of alpha male superiority. After the camera lingers on their bulging arms for a few seconds, Dillon finally surrenders.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Dutch and his team wipe out the guerrillas early in the film. Then the Predator hunts down and kills Dutch's team one by one without hardly a scratch. The battle between Dutch and the Predator also starts this way, as the Predator completely wrecks Dutch in hand-to-hand combat.
  • Daylight Horror: Dutch's team are all killed off in broad daylight, with only the finale taking place at nightfall.
  • Dead Man's Trigger Finger: A variant — the titular creature blasts Dillon's arm off with its shoulder cannon. The arm falls to the ground, with the dead hand still pulling the trigger of the weapon it's holding and the gun still firing.
  • Death by Looking Up: Technically, The Predator dies moments later when it blows itself up, but it is fatally injured by Dutch's trap when it looks up just in time for a suspended log to drop on its head, crushing it and leaving it a broken heap that has only enough strength left to active its self-destruct bomb and laugh.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Mac goes through one of these after Blaine's death. Billy seemingly resigns himself to death the moment he believes something other than a human is hunting them.
  • Digital Destruction: The "Ultimate Hunter" Blu-ray release relied so heavily on DNR that the film boasts no grain — but Arnold and Carl Weathers now look more like they got a fine wax job in a few scenes (especially the beginning).
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The mission is undertaken to rescue some men from a group of South American guerrillas. Soon after the camp is destroyed, the human-hunting alien shows up.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Inverted. Hawkins' fumbling attempt to explain the joke ("You see, because there's an echo...") is the only reason the joke works at all.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Many parallels have been made between this film and The Vietnam War: American troops fighting in a jungle against a stealthy, inscrutable fighting force.
  • Dwindling Party: The special forces team starts off with seven people and picks up an eighth with Anna. Then the dying starts. By the end of the film, there's only one of the original team left.
    • Hawkins: Stabbed and gutted by the Predator, who hangs his body upside-down in a tree.
    • Blain: Shot in the back by the Predator.
    • Mac: Shot in the head by the Predator, leaving his brains strewn all over the jungle floor.
    • Dillon: Arm shot off by the Predator, then impaled.
    • Billy: Killed Offscreen by the Predator with unknown means and his skull taken as a trophy.
    • Poncho: Shot in the head by the Predator, which in his case is Bloodless Carnage.
  • Enemy Mine: Anna the rebel helps the team when she realizes they are all being hunted.
  • Eureka Moment: When the Predator approaches a defenseless Dutch, it passes him by. Dutch is puzzled by this slight, he then looks at the mud covering him and:
    Dutch: He couldn't see me...
  • Evil Laugh: The Predator gives one hell of a menacing cackle before it dies, especially since his laugh is a hideously distorted mimic of Billy's laughter. It's probably safe to say that this laugh will haunt Dutch for the rest of his life.
  • Fair-Play Villain: The Predator doesn't attack the unarmed, given they're not much sport; he spares Anna, as she was a civilian or a woman. He later gives Dutch a better shot at him by stripping off his mask and shoulder cannon when he had him at his mercy. Not that the fight is anywhere near even, given his superior strength and incredible resilience, but it's more fair than long-range instant death. Besides, taking Mook Chivalry even further, after going hand-to-hand with Dutch the Predator does not use his wristblade in the initial phase of the fight, "merely" pummeling and kicking his opponent (had the alien actually used it in the same way as on the other members of the team, it would have probably been a very short fight, only marginally less short than "long-range instant death".)
    • However, it's averted after the Predator is defeated and fatally wounded by Dutch, whereupon it sets a self-destruct to attempt to kill his opponent as well as itself, while laughing maniacally. Honor, indeed.
  • Fast-Roping: Used at the beginning and justified because the helicopter didn't have enough room to set down.
  • Flaying Alive: Sort of. The Green Beret team at the beginning was skinned, but given the Predator's methods of taken trophies, it was almost certainly done after death.
  • Gatling Good: The famous GE M134 minigun "Ol' Painless", wielded by Jesse Ventura, was the first handheld minigun ever to be used on film (or in any fiction for that matter). The actors who fired it had to be braced just off-screen, lest the recoil knock them on their ass. And that was just firing blanks. They also had to connect it to an external power source off-screen, via a wire that went down his pants. Jesse himself has stated that while the gun was suspended from an off-screen crane in early takes, he later managed to fire it without the crane's help: "You just had to grit your teeth and hold on. It's like firing a chainsaw. It's fucking ridiculous. Why the fuck would anyone want to use something like that?"
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of the 80s action movies. Look up the "Analysis" for the details.
  • Genre Shift: Starts off as the usual Cold War military shoot-em-up action flick with hostages and CIA spooks but morphs into a sci-fi action/horror halfway through.
  • Give Me a Reason: Anna (the captured guerrilla) tries to escape from Dillon, her captor. After she's recaptured he says to her "Try it again...please", a threat of what he'll do to her if she does.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Most of the first half is dedicated to the rescue mission of Dillon's crew. Then the Predator attacks Hawkins.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Anna throws a handful of leaves in Dillon's face while trying to escape.
  • Hand Cannon: Dutch, Poncho, Mac, Billy and Hawkins all carry Desert Eagle handguns, though no one ever uses them.
  • Hand Signals: While traveling through the jungle and in combat, Dutch uses gestures (along with an occasional whistle) in lieu of speech to give information and instructions to the members of his hostage rescue team.
  • Handy Cuffs: The captured rebel Anna had her hands tied in front of her and took advantage of it to escape. Somewhat justified because the team was traveling through steep, rough terrain and she needed her hands in front of her to hold onto things and avoid falling.
  • Hard-Work Montage: Two; the team preparing traps to catch the title opponent, and Dutch for their one-on-one confrontation.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Dillon
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.:
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Billy makes a last stand on a log bridge to give the rest of the team time to escape.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Blain and Mac.
  • I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Trope Namer.
  • I Call It "Vera": Blaine's portable minigun Ol' Painless.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Billy senses the Predator is watching them, looking at the spot where the Predator is watching from. Dutch comes to know what's up with him.
    Billy: Do you see anything? Up there?
    Dutch: Nothing. What do you see?
    Billy: (after a moment of silence) I guess it's nothing, Major. (continues walking, with Dutch looking at him in confusion)
  • Jump Scare: After coming out of his hiding place to draw out the Predator, Dutch was about to turn back when the Predator suddenly got caught in their trap.
    Dillion: SHIT!
  • The Ketchup Test: Possibly justified, considering Predators bleed fluorescent green.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Predator's presence is dealt with very seriously and drains quite a bit of the campy comedy out of the movie when it arrives. Rather fitting considering the team members are in their comfort zone against human opposition, hence their general levity, but once the Predator turns up and makes it clear they're outmatched, they find themselves in a much more dire and unfamiliar scenario.
  • Lured into a Trap: Dutch attempts this after retreating from the Predator by trying to lure it into an obvious choke point lined with sharpened wooden stakes. The Predator doesn't fall for the Schmuck Bait, but Dutch trips the trap himself so the counterweight will crush the Predator, who had walked below it as he was avoiding the main trap.
  • Magical Native American: Billy senses the presence of the alien long before anyone else does. Justified as he is their scout. Still played straight, however, as Billy's reactions indicate that he somehow understands the otherworldly nature of their foe.
    Billy: I'm scared, major.
    Poncho: Bullshit! You ain't afraid of no man.
    Billy: There's something out there waiting for us. And it ain't no man. (cocks his gun) We're all gonna die.
    • Might still be a Justified Trope - Dutch's team clearly seem to be part of some kind of (possibly fictional) special operations force, being highly trained commandos. SOF, being focused on small-unit operations behind enemy lines, often have much more extensive training in fieldcraft, navigation and tracking than "ordinary" soldiers. So, it's likely that any one of Dutch's men is quite a good tracker, making Billy, the designated scout, potentially very, very good at his job (as said, he is the first one to be aware of the Predator). Assuming he's that good and, conversely, an expert on stealth, it's possible that he simply understood pretty fast that no human could have used such advanced camouflage techniques in such an efficient manner. Add to that the characteristic, or at least common image, of SOF soldiers being somewhat less rigid in their doctrine, more capable of thinking "outside the box" and more adaptable to drastic changes in circumstance, and it could be at least somewhat plausible that Billy arrived at the (to the team) highly unexpected conclusion that "yeah, there might be something else out there" as the only logical explanation.
  • Majorly Awesome: Dutch.
  • Meaningful Echo: At the beginning of the film, Mac's friend Blain plays a tape of Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally" on the chopper flight to the drop zone. Much later, during Mac's Heroic B.S.O.D., he repeats the lyrics in an insane mantra.
  • The Mockbuster: Robowar, starring Reb Brown of Space Mutiny fame. Oddly, while copying the film almost entirely in visual style and rough plot, it replaced the alien predator with a cyborg The Government had made from Brown's character's war casualty friend, self-loathing but suffering from I Cannot Self-Terminate.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Almost every male character is shirtless at some point and all are well built and muscled. Dutch in particular spends the climax of the movie shirtless.
  • Neck Lift: The title villain grabs Dutch by the neck, picks him up and presses him against a tree, examining him closely before administering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Notably averted. In his DVD commentary, director John McTiernan makes a point of noting that the scorpion which Mac stabs and later stomps was a real one.
  • Noodle Incident: At least two :
    • At the beginning, when Dutch and Dillon are introduced :
    Dillon: I heard about that little job you pulled off in Berlin. Very nice, Dutch.
    Dillon: Yeah, like the good old days. Then how come you passed on Libya?
    • When attacking the guerrillas :
    Poncho: Do you remember Afghanistan?
    Dutch: Trying to forget it.
  • Not Enough to Bury:
    Dutch: Did you find Hawkins?
    Poncho: I... can't tell.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Predator is very slowly revealed, and at first all we see are its victims and first-person thermal images of it stalking the main characters.
  • Not So Different: By the end of the film, Dutch and The Predator are the only ones left, playing a primal cat-and-mouse game with traps. Upon its defeat, Dutch walks up to its fallen form and utters...
    Dutch: What the hell are you?
    The Predator: What the hell are you?
  • Not So Stoic: The Magical Native American Billy is portrayed as The Stoic, but he out-of-character guffaws at a vagina joke in a Late to the Punchline moment.
  • Oh, Crap!: In the finale, when the Predator smashes a log used by Dutch with his bare forearm.
    Dutch: ...Bad idea.
  • Ominous Adversarial Amusement: After Dutch incapacitates the title creature, it activates a device on its wrist and starts laughing at him. Dutch realizes the device is a Self-Destruct Mechanism and starts running...
  • One-Word Title: Predator
  • Outside-Context Problem: Dutch and his team have everything under control, until an interplanetary hunter with technology, skills, and physical strength beyond any of them arrives.
  • Out-Gambitted: How the Predator is defeated. In the final encounter most of Dutch's traps count on this, forcing the Predator to second guess everything and guiding himself toward his own demise. The final fatal instrument counts on the Predator being smart enough to notice it, in order to position himself under the counterweight. Still had the Predator been a little less cocky (or walked in the wrong direction). he'd have killed Dutch a few times over before then.
  • Private Military Contractors: Dutch and his team are mercenaries; however, they specialize in hostage and rescue operations, turning down assignments that only involve killing people. Accordingly, when Dutch learns that Dillon fabricated the hostage situation to trick Dutch into wiping out a rebel compound, the mercs are not happy.
  • The Quiet One: Billy; Mac.
  • Rated M for Manly: It's a bunch of badass soldiers vs. an alien hunter.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Dutch's commando squad are elite soldiers who easily unleash a Curb-Stomp Battle on the guerrilla forces. However, when dealing with the Predator, they have absolutely no idea what they are up against, and are almost all killed as a result.
    • Similarly, while the Predator has a technological superiority, once it kills Blain and everyone starts shooting in its radius, it flees, especially when Mac grabs the minigun. No matter how good the Predator is, it knows getting hit with that much firepower will kill it.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer:
    • Despite being a mercenary, Dutch doesn't think so and turned down numerous high-profile jobs for this reason.
      Dutch: We're a rescue team, not assassins.
    • Dillion tells him that's not his decision to make.
      Dillon: You're an asset. An expendable asset. And I used you to get the job done, got it?!
      Dutch: My men are not expendable. And we don't do this kind of work.
  • Red Herring: Early on in the film, much is made of the Predator's ability to mimic human speech. Specifically, it is shown analyzing and duplicating Mac's dialogue "Turn around. Over here." Over an hour of screen time later, Dillon hears Mac's voice beckoning him with the exact same words and tone. At this point, the entire terrified audience believes that the Predator is baiting him, only it turns out... it really was Mac after all. The Predator never does use that gambit. After Mac is killed, the Predator taunts him with Mac's "Anytime" dialogue, so it is employed as psychological warfare.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Averted. Despite exploiting the Predator's heat vision to his advantage, Dutch's low-tech approach fails to beat the alien. It's only when the latter decides to "even things out" by removing its multi-purpose helmet and shoulder gun that Dutch stands a slender chance. And even when he wins, it's in no small part due to luck and the Predator's strange blend of arrogance and honor.
    • Also, Dutch quite literally grabs a large rock to use as a weapon at the close but drops it when he sees the Predator has already been mortally wounded by his log trap.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Hawkins
  • Sacrificial Lion: Most everyone that dies, Blain in particular.
  • Sanity Slippage: Mac isn't all there during his final confrontation with the Predator. Billy's Senseless Sacrifice might be a result of this as well.
  • Screaming Warrior: Dutch lights a torch and screams into the night, beckoning the Predator to come to him.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: The title opponent has a device on his wrist that can destroy an area equal to 300 city blocks.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Dillon; Billy. It's even lampshaded by Dutch and acknowledged by Dillon.
    Dutch: You can't win this one, Dillon.
    Dillon: I know, but maybe I can get even.
  • Setting Update: Of Beowulf.
  • Shirtless Scene: Dillon, Billy, Poncho and Dutch all get at least one. Dutch acts as a Walking Shirtless Scene for the climax.
  • Shoulder Cannon: The Predator comes equipped with a Plasma Caster, a laser-targeted shoulder-mounted plasma-cannon.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally" being played by Blain on the chopper flight to the drop zone.
    • Unintentional: though Alan Silvestri's work usually sounds different from movie to movie, half the score here is very similar to his Back to the Future score, making it hard to take those parts of Predator seriously.
    • The sitcommy cast credits play over the dark, pounding end music, further adding to the Mood Whiplash.
  • Stab the Salad: Dutch's prisoner Anna has her hands tied in front of her. He pulls out a knife and then slashes down with cut the ropes securing her wrists and free her.
  • Stab the Scorpion: Trope Namer.
  • Taking You with Me: After being pulverized by Dutch's deadfall trap, the dying Predator tries to take his enemy out as well by initiating a self-destruct sequence that wipes out an enormous swath of jungle.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Dutch's expression after the Predator walks around the death trap he was trying to sucker it into. However, since this quickly gives way to Dutch's triumphant grin after the Predator unwittingly steps underneath the deadfall trap, this may have been a clever ruse in order to trick the Predator (and the audience) into thinking he's failed.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Dutch gives one at the end after everyone in in his squad is killed and the Predator's subsequent suicide.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: In this case, a machete. "Stick around!"
  • Trail of Blood: At various times throughout the film, Dutch and the alien track each other via following their bloodstains.
  • Trap Master: Dutch's entire team is incredibly skilled at laying out exhaustive trap networks, from log deadfalls and net snares to tripwire-activated claymores. Dutch himself embodies this trope during his final battle with the Predator.
  • Vine Swing: While Dutch is hiding in a tree the Predator climbs by him, so he uses a vine to swing to another tree.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Dutch is this for the climax.
  • "What Now?" Ending: How will Dutch explain the death of his entire team? That an alien killed them then blew itself up and half the rainforest? What if the government doesn't believe him? What if they do? Both Predator 2 and Predators indicate that the story was taken seriously but obviously hidden from the public. The final fate of the survivors are still left unclear in light of this.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The team were very competent commandos in a 1980s action film. Unfortunately, the movie turned into a sci-fi slasher film around halfway through.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Billy makes his last stand against the Predator to give the rest of the team a chance to escape.