'Predator' Was Specially Designed To Mock Our Gun Fantasies
When Joel Silver got the script to 1987's Predator, he decided to produce it as a big-budget action film, much like his previous Commando. But the director he picked, John McTiernan, wasn't exactly gun-ho about the suggested tone.
"People had a sort of perverse fascination with pictures of guns firing," he'd later explain. "And I said to myself, 'Okay, if you want pictures of guns firing, um, I'll give you pictures of guns firing.' So I created this sequence where they take all of their guns and they blaze away continually for five minutes flat. And they flatten the jungle. They mow down evvverything."
"And what I was really doing," he said, "was sort of the Australian phrase ‘to take the piss out of’ (or to quietly ridicule) the desire to see pictures of guns firing." Because, see, the guns don't actually hit anything, unless you count all the exploding trees as successful shots. "The whole point was the impotence of all the guns. Which was exactly the opposite of what I believe I was being hired to sell."
You might have seen something similar in Die Hard, with a whole lot of bad guys dramatically firing their rifles but hitting nothing but glass. Die Hard was McTiernan's next film. "Now, some of the people involved in this movie have since put that same sequence into just about every movie they make," said McTiernan, "every movie they're involved in. With subtle differences. They sort of forget to take the people away from in front of the guns. So you get a sequence where they blaze away for five minutes killing people."
Not to say Predator is some total antiviolence piece. McTiernan called it merely a "compromise" between that and "the pornographic desire to market images of gunfire ... the corporate purpose." But it is kind of a takedown of violent fantasies, which the franchise eventually forgot. People remember "I ain't got time to bleed" and "If it bleeds, we can kill it," but the invisible Predator kills all those badasses but one, and even at the end, it dies by its own hand instead of the victor's bullets tearing it apart.
Or, as more proof of how little people remember the movie, think about how this shot has become a meme for different sides united in perfect agreement.
Arnold and Carl Weathers are on the same side, and they aren't agreeing. Arnold has turned their greeting into an arm wrestling match—one that he wins.
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Top image: 20th Century Studios