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something as primitive as life itself.
That was the fun, getting to that point.
Stripping away.
( Jim) When Arnold came on, it was a surprise.
We were always thinking
a bit more of an everyman.
Then, his interest in wanting
to know the character and the story.
It was great casting,
but that's what Joel does best,
bringing those elements together.
This stripping away is actually
the inverse of how the movie operates
throughout much of the first two acts.
Essentially, the movie starts out
as a military movie,
which in itself gets increasingly complex.
It then becomes more complicated
as science fiction and horror blend in.
Now, though, it's simpler.
In the third-act fight, typical action,
combat or western movie structures
are not imposed on the battle.
Dutch is not fighting
to stop a drug dealer or terrorist,
take a bridge, or drive
a villainous rancher out of town.
Nothing is at stake
beyond Dutch's own survival.
As the screenwriters have said,
the Predator is not a monster.
There is no higher morality in play here,
not even something as basic
as the subjugation of evil
in which the hero's success
and survival play an integral part.
And yet we want Dutch to win
just as badly as we do the hero
who fights to save
something bigger than himself.
This is unique among action/adventure
movies, even McTiernan's.
It's always satisfying to see the hero win,
but is that because
some larger purpose has been served
or because we feel an inherent pleasure
in seeing the character
we identify with trounce the villain?
So if Dutch's survival
has no larger ramifications,
why should we care if he survives?
And since he's played
by Arnold Schwarzenegger,
how can we be made to feel
like he might in fact die?
In addition to a stirring visual style,
McTiernan has another strength:
His ability to make you forget
that the hero is "the hero",
his ability to make you think
the hero could lose.
Sometimes this is a matter of
casting and characterisation,
as is the case with Bruce Willis
in the first "Die Hard",
which was made before Willis
had proven himself as a movie star,
let alone an action star.
Schwarzenegger is a different case.
Conventional screenwriting
and development wisdom holds
that a main character must
be "likable" for us to care.
McTiernan's movies usually aren't so stock.
His movies are not especially "deep",
but what sets them apart
is that they are sincere.
As many of his collaborators will attest,
McTiernan always seeks
to ground his movies in logic
and does so without compromising them
as action/adventure yarns.
As Al Di Sarro has observed,
McTiernan often reins things in -
"bigger is not always better".
As large as his movies get, they are
often understated at the same time.
This is where the sincerity begins.
And the sincerity begets gravity.
So as we approach the end of the movie,
we feel as though we've gone
through this experience, too.
It's the small things, not the enormous ones,
that accomplish this.
So even though we don't really know Dutch,
we feel connected to him.
Because we feel that connection,
it doesn't matter that
he's only trying to save himself.
Film critic Michael Wilmington
mentions McTiernan's experience
directing television commercials.
It has become commonplace for directors
to make a transition to features
after having first directed
commercials or music videos.
But unlike many of these directors,
McTiernan excels as both
a craftsman and a storyteller.
The style of McTiernan's movies

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