Thursday, October 29, 2009

Predator: A conspiracy theory

Well, I have no idea where that last post came from.  Sometimes I like to think out loud... with my hands... on the Internet.

Anyway, a very strange thing happened to me today.  I was watching Predator for the umpteenth time, fascinated with how it seems to get better with each viewing.  Afterwards I went to check out the trivia and goofs on the IMDB page and came across this little nugget:

After Hawkins is killed, Anna is found, terrified. Poncho asks her repeatedly, "Que paso, mujer?" which does in fact mean, "What happened, lady?" Her answer is "No se, no estoy seguro, no se!" Poncho states, "She says the jungle, it came alive and took him." "No se" is Spanish for "I don't know," and "No estoy seguro" means "I'm not sure."

Now, this is the unit's first encounter with the Predator.  Up until that point - aside from Billy being spooked by something - they had no idea that there was anything out there other than rebels or enemy soldiers.  If Anna gave no indication of what she saw, how could Poncho have known that, in a sense, the jungle really did come alive and take Hawkins?  What the IMDB trivia doesn't mention is that, after Poncho tells the rest of the unit what Anna supposedly said, Dillon interjects with "Bullshit! That's not what she said."  It's safe to assume that Dillon was not just freaked out, but understood enough Spanish to know that "No estoy seguro" sure as shit doesn't mean "the jungle came to life."

Sure, it could just be a goof.  This seems unlikely, however, as it would be baffling how the writers - who understood enough Spanish to write Anna and Poncho's dialogue - would simply leave a glaring mistranslation in there.  Furthermore, Dillon's reaction to what Poncho said seems like there was a genuine intent in the way the scene played out.

I imagine two possible scenarios:
  • Poncho was a government agent planted in Dutch's (Schwarzenegger's) team in order to draw out and investigate the Predator, and the entire rescue mission was just a snow job; an excuse to put Poncho and the rest of the unit on the creature's path.  Exactly which government he really worked for and how much they knew about the Predator(s) at that stage remains a mystery.
  • Poncho was working with the Predators.  Either he was some kind of clone or automaton, or a bona fide human ally of the Predators.  In either case, his job was to lead the unit towards the creature's predetermined hunting area within the jungle in order to set up the hunt.  Take note of the fact that Poncho is the only member of the unit who, arguably, was not directly hunted by the Predator; he was injured by one of the team's traps, and finally killed by a plasma blast from the creature's shoulder cannon clearly meant for Dutch, who was carrying Poncho at the time.

One last thought that only just hit me: At the end of the film as the credits appear, we see shots of the principal cast along with their names.  Richard Chaves, who plays Poncho, is officially the first name we see.  The names are obviously not in alphabetical order, nor in order of appearance, so why would Poncho be at the top of the credits, even before Schwarzenegger?  Could it perhaps be a hint that there's more to the character than meets the eye, or that he could even be the film's true protagonist?  We may never know.

Enterprising Redditor guinunez tracked down the subtitles, and according to them, before Anna says the above line, she says "Ya te he dicho todo lo que se, la selva se lo llevó. qué más quieres que te diga?" which translates to "I've told you everything I know, the jungle took him. What else do you want me to say to you?"  So perhaps Poncho's honour remains intact!

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