And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


Predator 2 (1990)
Targeting your children since 1997.

Targeting your children since 1997.

It’s easy enough to feel like the Predator during an opening shootout, when we as the audience have no real idea who the hell anyone is or what’s going on. Except we know at once that we’re trapped in an action film, and a fairly gratuitous one at that. No problemo there. Gratuity and I are old friends. But Predator 2 is unique in that it lets us know, almost from the first, that it knows we know how gratuitous all this is.

I think this extra level of aesthetic intelligence contributed to Predator 2‘s near-universal condemnation. Genre fans failed to appreciate the time, effort and thought that went into this production (at least at the time…most have woken up since, and the rest of you should keep reading – this one’s for you guys), while non-fans…well…we all know there’s no reasoning with them, don’t we? Yes. {More}



Predator (1987)

"I can see Oregon's potheads from here. De cloud of smoke is  unmistakable."The 1980s saw a remasculization of American cinema. After long years languishing inside various genre ghettos (from sci-fi to vigilante to blaxploitation), the Action film took on a shambling semblance of life all its own. When you look at Westerns, Cop Dramas, or Spy Pics from the 60s and 70s, distinct hallmarks of their diverse genres remain apparent, intact. By 1982, with First Blood, we see these conventions reincarnated as a horrific Frankenstein of a thing, neither fish nor foul. A death mongering genre that dominated the Industry well into the 1990s, putting butts in seats worldwide with its fetish for explosions and ever-more-elaborate weaponry.

The late-80s saw the genre reach its (*ahem*) creative height. Beginning with 1985’s Rambo II, and continuing through Lethal Weapon, tonight’s subject (both 1987), and director John McTiernan’s next film, Die Hard (1988), the Action movie grew comfortable with its internal logic (or lack thereof) and began to stretch its wings out, taking on new and strange shapes its finely-trained audience hardly recognized. McTiernan himself would drag it through several of these bends, leading the genre to high highs with…well…let’s say Die Hard: With a Vengeance…and eventual suicide. (Well, what else can you call Last Action Hero?) {More}