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.
  • 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 Mini-Gun backpack magazine. Yes, it may just be an oversized magazine, but considering it's Blaine, Predator, and the whole awesomeness in general of that movie, well, it becomes awesome by proxy.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Dillon. It's even still triggering his machine gun.
  • Asshole Victim: Dillon, considering most of the deaths of the characters by the Predator's hand leads back to him, due to tricking his colleagues to their deaths all because he left them in the dark about the actual assassination mission.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Big Bad: The Predator hunting everybody.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Dillon in a way.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Poncho says this ("Que?!") when Anna told him "the jungle came alive and took [Hawkins]".
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Dillon to an extent.
  • 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.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: The Predator's gauntlet comes equipped with a pair of razor-sharp Wolverine Claws.
  • 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.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Dutch uses stealth tactics to defeat the 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).
  • 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.
  • Cold War: Dutch's mission involves wiping out Communist insurgents in South America.
  • Credits Montage / Hilarious Outtakes: The characters and actors are reviewed in 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 wipes 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: A very good example of this trope; 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.
  • 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 guerillas. 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.
  • 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.
  • Fair Play Villain: The Predator doesn't attack the unarmed, given they're not much sport; he spares Anna, as she was a civilian. 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 wrist-blade, but it's more fair than long-range instant death.
  • 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.
  • Fridge Horror: The Predator is on safari. It's the exact same thing we humans have done to animals for hundreds of years.
  • 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 offscreen, 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 offscreen, via a wire that went down his pants. Jesse himself has stated that while the gun was suspended from an offscreen 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.
    • The film transitions from: 80s action movie —> horror movie —> sci-fi film.
  • Give Me a Reason: Anna (the captured guerilla) 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 Dutch'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 Signals
  • 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.: "I'm gonna have me some fun... I'm gonna have me some fun..." Mac was more or less together for the most part after Blaine's death, the Heroic B.S.O.D. didn't kick in until Poncho is nearly killed and causing Mac to snap.
    "I got you motherfucker! I got you! (runs after the Predator) I'M COMIIING!!"
    • Anna has this when Hawkins is killed in front of her.
  • 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": Ol' Painless.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Billy sense the Predator is watching them, looking at the spot where the Predator is watching from. Major came 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)
  • The Ketchup Test: Possibly justified, considering Predators bleed fluorescent green.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Predator's presence is dealt with very seriously and greatly 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 reveals that he has a counter measure to it being Genre Savvy as well; the Predator circles around instead, unaware that he has just stepped underneath an even more dangerous deadfall trap.
    • The falling log was part of the same trap. Had the Predator stepped forward instead of around, its foot would have been snared in the rope and pulled it up between the two spiked branches with the log as the weight to jerk it upwards. Dutch just improvised when it stepped underneath the counter-weight.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: Perhaps. Dutch, upon seeing the mortally wounded Predator, asks "What the hell are you?" It replies, "What the hell are you?" Though it might just be mimicking the sound, considering the context, it's very likely he was inferring a similar response regardless.
  • 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.
  • One-Word Title
  • Outside Context Foe: 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 his traps count on this, forcing the Predator to second guess everything and guiding him toward his own demise. The final fatal instrument counts on the Predator being smart enough to notice it, in order to fall prey to an even worse trap. Still had the Predator been a little less cocky, he'd have killed Dutch a few times over before then.
    • The log was part of the spiked branches trap as the counter-weight to pull it up into the spikes. Dutch was lucky it didn't walk around the other side.
  • The Quiet One: Billy; Mac.
  • Rated M for Manly: Hell yeah.
  • 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 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.
    • Though it may have been using it; Mac just happened to actually be there. 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.
  • 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 Machete Always Works: "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.
  • X Meets Y: Roger Ebert opened his review remarking that the film was Rambo combined with Alien; he meant it as a compliment, noting that the fusion counted for originality in Hollywood.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Billy makes his last stand against the Predator to give the rest of the team a chance to escape.