Picks and Pans Review: Predator
With a title like that and a cast headed by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers, Rocky's old sparring mate, this movie is not likely to attract people looking for the new Blithe Spirit. And those who like action movies and are not easily offended by relentless implausibility and violence will find Predator fast, flashy and as distracting as a whack in the head with a brick. Schwarzenegger plays the leader of a commando unit that specializes in rescuing hostages. These are ruthless guys; one of them totes a machine gun that in real life would be heavy enough to give a rhinoceros a hernia, if you could find a rhinoceros stupid enough to carry it. Arn has lots of scruples, though. He notes self-righteously that his men don't do assassinations or offensive missions, and you half expect him to snarl, "And we don't do landscaping or small-appliance repair, either." Weathers, as a CIA operative, orders Schwarzenegger and the boys into a Latin American jungle to rescue two hostages being held by guerrillas. There's a murky subplot here about an invasion of someplace by someone, but never mind. What matters is that the commandos blow the guerrillas away. And why not? There are six commandos, and only 3,000 or so guerrillas, none of whom could shoot straight enough to hit a wall if he were standing on the floor of the Grand Canyon. But this isn't Arnold's lucky day. He and his men happen on a spot frequented by a creature from outer space. This character is sort of invisible and likes to tear humans to pieces and turn them into people tartare, without any scallions or raw egg, either. It eventually boils down, of course, to a confrontation between Schwarzenegger and the creature, during which, suffice it to say, Arnold absorbs enough punishment to destroy a midsize city. Director John (Nomads) McTieman follows a shoot-first-and-forget-about-the-questions policy but uses his pyrotechnics and special effects adroitly. Especially effective are the shots from the monster's point of view. The creature seems to "see" using an infrared technique, which sets up a nice gimmick during the shoot-out. Schwarzenegger, considerably slimmed down, has little to do but flex, glare and shoot. He manages to be likable nonetheless. That may be because even though there's little overt humor—only a couple of bad dirty jokes—he never seems to take things too seriously. Somehow you know that no matter how barbarically crude and violent Schwarzenegger gets, what he would really like is to be home eating strudel and reading some Schopenhauer. (R)
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