Ranking The Commandos In 'Predator'
Predator was a genre-bending classic that combined over-the-top '80s action with sci-fi and slasher-horror elements that ended up being far better than it really had any right to be. The tight direction, memorable cast, and quality special effects still stand up today. The film produced a raft of sequels, gubernatorial candidates, and names for goblin spiders. It also introduced us to one of the all-time great movie monsters: the Predator.
The clever bait-and-switch at the start shows an elite team of commandos annihilating a nondescript guerilla base with ease (some 50+ kills in less than four minutes) before they become the prey of a mysterious alien that hunts for sport. A couple of members of the team get a fair shake, but most are dispatched very cheaply by a Predator that only seems to enforce its own rules when it feels like it. So all things being equal, which members of Dutch's team were actually the best soldiers?
- 1261 VOTES
Weapons of choice: M16A2 w/grenade launcher, C4 explosives, bow, knives, bare hands, one-liners
Strengths: Plot armor, leadership, deadlifting, improvisation, weapon crafting
Weaknesses: Relies heavily on luck
Dutch is very much an officer who leads from the front. He clearly has the absolute trust of his small team and they obey his orders without a second thought. He's shown to be willing to discuss plans as he defers pathfinding to Billy Sole and listens to others. His orders are always short and precise, single words or even just whistling when the situation requires it. When the chips are down, his first instinct is to protect his dwindling team.
In the assault on the guerilla base, he really should have perished at least twice - first by a nameless grunt who stuck around too long and then by Anna Gonsalves who botched a routine kill. Prior to that, his plan of attack relied upon the lookouts not actually looking out and pretty much walking right into the base to strap an explosive to a truck. He mows down scores of guerillas despite never actually aiming down the sights of his gun. He moves with the confidence of the main character.
He shows an ability to improvise that saves his skin multiple times. He finds a way to effectively hide from the Predator's heat vision and fashions some makeshift weapons and traps to even the odds. Of course, he still has to rely on hefty doses of plot armor to win that final showdown, and the Predator finally plays at least somewhat fair. Still, he makes the most of his chances and is perceptive enough to run from the dying Predator, though we have to wonder how someone that muscular could summon the energy to outrun a mushroom cloud after such an exhausting fight.
- 2193 VOTES
Weapons of choice: M16A2 w/shotgun attachment, machete
Strengths: Tracking, survival skills, perception, hearty laugh
Weaknesses: Emotionally unstable
If you need to get out of a hole or track someone down, Billy Sole is definitely your guy. Dutch calls upon Sole whenever he needs to find a way in or out. He's the first to understand there's something more out there in the jungle. After finding Jim Hopper's grisly remains, he's able to piece together what went down and sense that something doesn't add up. After the losses of Rick Hawkins and Blain Cooper, Sole grasps the gravity of the situation, and that knowledge clearly takes its toll. His breakdown is all the more unnerving because of how fearless and competent he was shown to be earlier.
In the end, he elects to take the Predator on with nothing more than a machete. The last vestiges of Sole's sanity are clearly gone as he chooses to face his fears in a hopeless last stand. An end as noble as it was foolish.
- 3163 VOTES
Weapons of choice: MP5A3, M134 Minigun
Strengths: Overwhelming firepower, physical strength, bravery
Weaknesses: Non-regulation gear, complete disregard for his own safety, lacking subtlety
In real life, Jesse Ventura served in the US Navy as part of the Underwater Demolition Team, though he didn’t see combat. His character in Predator was a bit of an over-the-top parody that made for a memorable movie role, but those defining traits would honestly be quite suspect in a covert operation behind enemy lines.
The M134 Minigun he used isn’t actually supposed to be carried; it's typically fired from a fixed platform. At around 85 pounds, it’s not overly heavy to lift, but carrying that weight over long distances would definitely take a toll on even the strongest person. Accuracy would be another major issue, but with 2,000 rounds (some models can shoot up to 6,000 rounds) per minute, that probably doesn’t matter much in the end.
He shows very little concern for his own safety, casually brushing off a wound with the immortal line, “I ain't got time to bleed." With a high risk of infection in the jungle, his almost cartoonish bravado could hinder the team in the long run. The self-proclaimed sexual Tyrannosaurus rex (now there’s an image that really doesn’t bear thinking about) would certainly bring the firepower, but the lack of subtlety might not be worth it. Perhaps the sincerest compliment that can be paid to Blain Cooper is the fact that the Predator offs him so cheaply with a plasma cannon to the back.
- 4178 VOTES
Weapons of choice: M60E3, M134 Minigun (briefly), combat knife
Strengths: Quick reflexes, intense loyalty, no hesitation, fastidious adherence to grooming standards
Weaknesses: Impulsive, emotionally unstable
Mac Eliot's intense loyalty to the group is shown early on when he threatens to kill Al Dillon after the CIA man almost gives away their position. In the ensuing rout of the rebels, he works quickly and effectively first by stealth and then showing sharp reflexes and pretty good accuracy with the M60E3 he carries into battle. When Blain Cooper is slain, Eliot shows zero hesitation and actually scores a hit on the ankle of the Predator as it runs away. He then wields Cooper's Minigun to do the sort of environmental damage you wouldn't normally see outside of an oil company's boardroom.
With his close friend gone, he begins to unravel. After another encounter with the alien, his mind goes completely and he takes off in a mad pursuit with no regard for himself or the remaining members of the squad. He seems to have calmed down momentarily when Dillon catches up with him and they form a plan that is a bit too reliant on the Predator staying put. He's dispatched at close range by a distinctly unsporting Predator while crawling through a log. Eliot would definitely have your back - but could you trust him to hold it together if things go south?
- 5141 VOTES
Weapons of choice: MP5A3, rotary grenade launcher, M18 Claymore mines
Strengths: Explosives, quick on his feet, languages, snappy one-liners
Weaknesses: Loss of concentration, terrible luck
Another member of the cast with real-life military experience, Richard Chaves served in Vietnam in the early '70s before embarking on an acting career. Like Rick Hawkins, Poncho's slimmer build would be much closer to a real-life special forces operative than the imposing frames of the rest of the cast. There's a scene in the guerilla battle where he takes cover behind a tree that his castmates would have been too big for.
The grenade launcher he uses to such devastating effect in the opening battle isn't actually a real weapon but a heavily modified flare gun. He manages to both dislodge the last remaining guerillas and best Blain Cooper in a verbal contest at the same time. "You got time to duck?" is one of those simple lines that just hits right. As seen by his conversations with Anna Gonsalves, he's either a native or at least highly proficient speaker of Spanish, which clearly is an important skill for covert ops in Central America.
He loses sight of Gonsalves, which leads to Hawkins's untimely end, and starts to lose his cool when things really go south. But he never shirks from helping out and lends his considerable explosives expertise to set up a defensive perimeter. Unfortunately for Poncho, secondary characters don't usually get the rub of the green. He's injured by a falling tree and later taken out by the Predator in the movie's least sporting kill. He's the last person to perish.
- 6129 VOTES
Weapon of choice: MP5A3 (dual-wield)
Strengths: Language skills, covert knowledge, good handshake
Weakness: Reflexes dulled by pushing too many pencils, secrecy makes him hard to trust
When it comes to memorable film introductions, the handquake (that's not a typo) between Dutch and Al Dillon has to be up there. Dillon and Dutch go way back, but he's evidently been out of the field for some time, as an early stumble almost exposes the team's position - though as we'll see later, the likelihood of the guerillas spotting pretty much anything seems remote.
Dillon does his part in the mayhem that follows, but his underlying motives for the operation come to the fore and it threatens to break the team apart. For covert ops in Val Verde, Hollywood's go-to fictional Central American nation, actually speaking the language would be pretty useful. Dillon's Spanish isn't up to Poncho's level, but he does seem to have at least a reasonable grasp of the language. He also takes over the operation of the radio after Hawkins is taken out.
Though his motivations are questionable, when things get bad, he doesn't shy away from stepping up to the plate. Nor does he appear to hold grudges, as he evidently brushes off Eliot's earlier death threat by going in after him when Eliot takes off in pursuit of the Predator. He gets arguably the best death in the movie when he finds Eliot's remains and faces down the Predator alone. He's just a split second too late in the end, but even after his arm is blown off, he makes a valiant but futile attempt to take it with him. In the end, Dillon had all the skills needed for covert operations but showed that too much time at a desk has fatal consequences against 7-foot-tall aliens.