So on Saturday night I watched a film where a whole bunch of Hollywood actors pranced about in the greenery, indulging in high camp and low comedy. But enough about “Predator” – wasn’t Tropic Thunder a revelation!!! How on earth did this film get the green light? What was Ben Stiller’s pitch – “It’s like Zoolander crossed with Full Metal Jacket”? If so, he executed his plan.
Stiller does his standard enthusiastic-but-dim shtick, to great effect. Robert Downey Jr is a revelation as the Australian guy playing a black guy playing… oh, look, it’s up there with Dustin Hoffman’s turn in Tootsie (and that’s high praise). Jack Black is awesome as the Id of the three. Supporting cast includes Steve Coogan and Matthew McCaunneghy (spelling – I can’t be bothered to google. You know who I mean). But the guy who walks away with the film, over and above even Nick Nolte is… Tom Cruise. As you have never ever seen him before. He may be as barking as people think, I’m not qualified to say. But fucker can act. And take the piss of himself. Oh yes.
The references – Platoon, Casualties of War, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Rambo II, Raiders of the Lost Ark – fly thick and fast, and it is that clever kind of film about films that can grate. But its verve and audacity carry it through. You spend half the film with your jaw on the floor – “did they just say that??!” When Downey explains that you can’t win an Oscar if you go “full retard”, I started hyperventilating. It’s that kind of film.
After that, Predator was always going to be an anti-climax. I am not sure I have seen it since I saw it on cinematic release, as a teenager (me and my mum had a let’s-see-the-new-Schwarzenegger-film thing that lasted from Raw Deal and Commando through to Total Recall. Good times!), but it bears up remarkably well.
Lots of great lines of course, not least “If it bleeds, we can kill it.”
And he did!