For some, John McTiernan's Predator, released in June 1987, remains the definitive action movie. Its violent, hyper-masculine and insanely quote-worthy 107 minutes became a cornerstone of 80s cinema, anchored by peak Arnold Schwarzenegger but built around a charismatic ensemble cast with great chemistry, plus an iconic monster that McTiernan was savvy enough to use sparingly.
As with all 80s horror and action knock-outs, Predator spawned an enduring franchise, thus far taking in seven films (including two crossovers with another certain alien heavyweight), plus a ton of comic books, video games, novels and toys aplenty. With recent prequel Prey offering a new take on our favourite, masked, intergalactic hunter, we thought we'd go ahead and rank every Predator film to date. Here's what we're saying.
7. Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem (2007)
In fairness, there may well at least be some cool gore and striking visuals somewhere in Requiem. We say "may", because we honestly have no idea: you can't see a fucking thing for 90% of this clunkily-paced, messily-plotted, poorly-lit plop of a film. It's a shame, because whatever you may have thought of the first Alien Vs Predator (more on that later), the introduction of the 'Predalien' was a tantalising thread for its sequel to pick up on.
As it happens, not only can we barely see the damn thing once it turns up, but Requiem follows in the footsteps of so many come-lately horror sequels in ignoring what helps make the originals so great in the first place: compelling protagonists. Arnold et al might be hilariously over-the-top caricatures in Predator, but they're memorable, charismatic and badass as hell. Dumping a bunch of monsters into a random, no-name municipality in middle America to reap (badly shot) carnage upon a host of faceless, forgettable locals just doesn't cut it. Unsurprisingly, this stinker killed the AvP franchise.
6. The Predator (2018)
All signs, initially, were good for The Predator. Helmed by Shane Black, whose writing and directorial credits included two Lethal Weapons, Last Action Hero and Iron Man 3, not to mention having appeared in the original Predator, it seemed like the series now had someone in charge who know exactly how to bring it back to the look and feel of the original. Throw in an ensemble cast that included Narcos' Boyd Holbrook, Moonlight's Trevante Rhodes and Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown, and the pedigree surrounding the film looked bulletproof.
How wrong we were. The Predator is a mess, packing a jarring clash of tones, an inexplicable lack of chemistry between its stars and some unforgivably goofy ideas (friendly Predator dogs! A giant Predator!). While we give Black some credit for trying to mix some of the themes of the original (quick-quipping military bros) with something different (A GIANT PREDATOR!!!), it just doesn't come off, the final reveal of a stupendously daft-looking 'Predator killer' robo-suit feeling like something that should have come from an abandoned kids cartoon pilot, not a movie designed to resurrect a flagging franchise. Oh well.
5. Alien Vs Predator (2004)
Ok, let's get this straight out of the way: Alien Vs Predator is neither a good Alien movie, nor a good Predator movie. It lacks the visceral tension and bloody violence of either franchise (a 12A rating didn't help), and its canon-shaking revelation that Xenomorphs and Predators have been brawling on Earth for millennia felt way off given everything we knew about both species to this point. Plus, Sanaa Lathan's Lex Woods buddying up with a friendly Predator was just one cuddly step too far.
There is fun to be had if you can stomach the (numerous) negatives, though. On its own merit, Alien Vs Predator is a fun, knowingly daft, popcorn-friendly dust-up, at least offering a handful of memorable characters to root for/against, some cool set pieces (Alien Queen running wild!) and a fun cliffhanger to hook a sequel on (even if we all know how that went). Although it really didn't do a good job of portraying the Predators as the ultimate hunting machines we know them as. Like, two of them get annihilated by a single Xenomorph at one point. Poor show, lads.
4. Predator 2 (1990)
Receiving cold reviews upon release, time has been somewhat kind to Predator 2. A decent stab at attempting something different with the franchise, it swapped the eerie surroundings of the Mexican jungle for the stark and grimy environment of 90s LA , switching the intense, muscular presence of Arnie's Dutch for worldweary but determined cop Michael Harrigan, played with just the right amount of gravitas and manic energy by Danny Glover.
To be fair, it is a batshit crazy movie, throwing the Predator in with cocaine-guzzling gangsters and voodoo-practicing drug lords, so it's perhaps no surprise that its frenetic pace and off-kilter tone jarred with many fans of the original. Given some of the dross that followed it, though, we think Predator 2 deserves some credit for bringing the franchise recklessly freewheeling into the 90s.
3. Predators (2010)
In many ways, Predators is the forgotten entry of the franchise. It's a shame, because not only is the film's premise great fun (put short: a mish-mash of soldiers, warriors, murderers and psychopaths get dumped on an alien planet to try their luck against a horde of you-know-whats), but it produces a surprisingly convincing performance from leading man Adrian Brody, who makes an against-type star turn as a haunted Special Ops soldier-turned-mercenary. Alice Braga, too, puts in a decent enough shift as a guilt-ridden sniper trying to keep the would-be team together.
Sadly, the majority of the rest of the characters just don't convince, and a bizarre but predictable twist unveiling Topher Grace's bumbling doctor as a maniacal serial killer is a silly and needless distraction. Luckily, there's more than enough great action, tense moments (Danny Trejo's Cuchillo being used as bait is nightmare-inducing) and fun new Predator designs to make this a very solid, if imperfect, addition to the fold.
2. Prey (2022)
How do you finally inject a franchise on life support with the boost of adrenaline it so desperately needs? You don't just take it back to its roots: you go back even further - a few hundred years further, to be precise. Pitting ol' Pred-head against a determined, intuitive Comanche warrior in the American wilderness was a masterstroke, and Dan Trachtenberg's direction managed to reintroduce the kind of tension and earthy ambience we hadn't seen in a Predator film since 1987.
Crucially, in Amber Midhunter we also arguably had the series' most magnetic protagonist since Arnie himself, with Naru's relationship with her tribe, and in particular brother Taabe, giving her final battle against the Predator some extra emotional grounding. Throw in a super-gnarly, new-look Predator and some all-time-great franchise scenes (the French voyageurs getting wasted and, yes, that bear scene are our favourites), and you finally have a modern addition to the Predator canon that is truly worthy of the name.
1. Predator (1987)
You already knew this though, right? Predator remains not just the ultimate Predator flick, but one of the single greatest action movies of all time. Tense, bloody and filled with memorable characters, the original nonetheless succeeds most where other entries fail in its understanding that, sometimes, less is more. For every explosion of violence or fist-pumping, on-the-nose flash of braggadocio, there's an eerie moment of silence or clever bit of misdirection that leaves you second-guessing. Was the monster even in the trees that time, or are we seeing things?!
Plus, the Predator itself not revealing its full, terrifying visage until its final battle with Schwarzeneggar's Dutch was a masterstroke: we get to experience Dutch's relationship with the beast in realtime, and his fraught, desperate final throw of the dice is all the more nerve-racking as a result. Those final, bone-chilling laughs ringing out as the Predator is blown to smithereens is also one of the most effective final stands of any horror baddie ever. Even if he was one ugly motherfucker (sorry, we had to get one in).