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Why The Minigun Scene From Predator Makes No Sense

Sci-fi-action flicks don't get much more potent than 1987's Predator, one of the greatest pure popcorn movies to be released in a decade full of 'em. Its premise is ingenious: a group of hardened mercenaries led by Alan "Dutch" Schafer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) are sent into the Central American jungle to recover American hostages being held by guerrillas. What they encounter, though, is a bit more difficult to handle than wild-eyed rebels with guns; Dutch and his team are set upon by an eight-foot tall extraterrestrial with advanced weapons, body armor, and an active camouflage device. The creature is there for one purpose only: to hunt and kill humans for sport, and the tougher, the better. The team's mission quickly changes from providing liberation to avoiding extermination, as they attempt to reach their extraction point before the beast can pick them off, one at a time.

Predator assembled some of the most awesome elements the '80s had to offer. It was directed by John McTiernan of Die Hard fame from a cracking script by brothers Jim and John Thomas. It featured Schwarzenegger in his ultra-ripped prime, and it gave us one of the most kick-ass action ensembles to ever share one screen; aside from Arnie, the flick starred the always-awesome Carl Weathers as CIA agent Dillon; Jesse Ventura as fearless commando Blain; Bill Duke as his slightly unhinged best buddy Mac; Sonny Landham as ace tracker Billy; and — in a rare acting role — future Iron Man 3 director Shane Black as radio operator Hawkins. It also gave us one of the most brilliantly realized alien monsters of the decade in Kevin Peter Hall's Predator, the spectacle of two future governors going toe-to-toe with said alien monster, and a couple of scenes showcasing one of the biggest, baddest guns to ever grace the silver screen: the General Electric M134, which is often colloquially referred to as the "minigun," which, while awesome, had a bit of a flaw.

Blain's weapon of choice in Predator wasn't exactly practical

The minigun is Blain's weapon of choice in the flick, and Ventura gets to look like a total badass wielding it for a couple scenes before the barrel-chested character gets taken down by the Predator. Mac then picks up the gun and — in a blind rage — just completely empties the thing into the jungle after the fleeing alien. The gun's spinning, six-barreled muzzle looks absolutely terrifying onscreen, and, as the rest of the team joins Mac in lighting up the forest, they may as well be firing BB guns compared to its sheer volume of hot lead. It's a great scene, and it's pure Hollywood — mainly because using the minigun in that manner would in no way be possible in real life.

First and foremost, the M134 is designed for use as a mounted weapon. As pointed out by ScreenRant, it requires an external power source and separate box for ammo, and when complete, the rig is far too heavy for anyone — not even Jesse Ventura in 1987 — to lug through the jungle. Also, even with its firing rate substantially slowed down — which had to be done in order to look right on camera — the gun would blow through a ridiculous 1,200 rounds per minute, meaning that Mac's jungle-blasting fest should only have gone on for a few seconds, rather than the minute or so depicted in the movie.

Consider too that like most guns, the M134 ejects shell casings as it fires. Taking into account the insane volume of bullets fired by Mac — and even if all those bullets were magically coming out of nowhere, since he had no ammo box (read: Bag of Holding trope) — he should have had a piping hot pile of them up to his knees by the end of his little rampage, but instead, there was nary a casing to be seen on the ground. 

The M134 has appeared in a ton of movies

Yes, the minigun is designed only to be mounted to aircraft and heavy vehicles, it requires more accessories than your hardcore gaming computer, and it blasts through ammo at a rate that can charitably be described as "unreasonable." In short, its real-world applications just aren't terribly cinematic — but it just keeps showing up in movie after movie, because it looks incredibly freakin' rad.

According to veteran Hollywood armorer John Fox's website, the gun will "chew through your [production] budget at approximately $150 per second of gunfire." It's worth it, though, for the weapon's "emotional onscreen presence," which we're assuming is a reference to the universal human emotion of "Holy crap, that's a ginormous gun." Fox notes that the weapon has appeared in such iconic blockbusters as Terminator 2: Judgment Day (now wielded by Schwarzenegger), The Matrix, and Black Hawk Down.

In fact, according to the Internet Movie Firearms Database wiki, which is a thing that you now know exists, the minigun has appeared in an eye-popping number of films, often depicted as being mounted — whether it's to a UH-1 Huey gunship — in flicks like Apocalypse Now or X-Men Origins: Wolverine — a modified ground vehicle — as seen in Sharknado and White House Down — or the Batwing in Batman. The handheld version has even made numerous reappearances — like in Furious 7, in which it was wielded by Dwayne Johnson's Luke Hobbs, who at least dragged along an underpowered battery. It sure seems like, as long as Hollywood keeps cranking out big-budget action and war flicks, we can expect to keep seeing grimly determined heroes lighting up the opposition with miniguns — just don't look for piles of shell casings.