A lot of the best moments in sci-fi movie history are scenes that challenge viewers intellectually, giving form to impossible things or exploring mind-blowing ideas. Some, though, are great simply because it’s fun to see big, beefy dudes fight aliens with knives in the jungle.
“Predator” may not be the most thought-provoking science fiction movie, but it is a certified classic. The first action movie from director John McTiernan, who later conquered the genre with the “Die Hard” franchise, follows a squad of muscle-bound military commandos on a routine mission into a South American jungle. Things go awry when they start to be hunted by an invisible extraterrestrial foe: the Predator itself.
By the time the final act rolls around, it’s just Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and the Predator. Slathered in mud to avoid the alien’s thermal vision, Dutch lays traps, ambushing his enemy in the same way it’s been taking out his comrades. Sparks fly (literally), and the jungle lights up with fire and explosions as the two titans go at it. We even get a few choice one-liners along the way to keep things light.
Sometimes, a great scene doesn’t need to tap into the deepest recesses of your mind. Sometimes, it just needs to be flashy and fun, and the ending of “Predator” is exactly that. The duel in the 2022 prequel “Prey” may be even better, but we’ll leave that up to you to decide.