“The Predator”- Movie Review
Of all the creatures that make up the movie alien hall of fame, the Predator is by far my personal favorite (with H.R. Giger’s Alien coming in at a close second). What’s not to love about it? It’s fast, it’s strong, it’s intelligent, it’s a ruthless sport-hunter with an awesome and terrifying design. Although its film debut, 1987’s Predator, is widely considered a classic, the series of sequels that came after it failed to reach the same level of praise. So many people, myself included, were curious to see if Shane Black’s take on the Predator lore could help revitalize the franchise.
The story centers on Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), an army sniper who’s busy with a hostage retrieval mission when, all of a sudden, a massive spacecraft crash-lands on Earth. In the midst of the fiery rubble, he comes across pieces of alien technology and has a run in with the Predator itself. After he manages to escape, he gets the bright idea of mailing the dangerous tech to his house, where his autistic son, Rory (played by the always adorable Jacob Tremblay) tinkers with it and inadvertently sets of a tracker alerting the Predator of the armor’s whereabouts. Now the hunt is on as Quinn teams up with a group of loony convicts to catch and kill the Predator, all while the threat of a Super Predator looms over their heads.
On paper, The Predator has the makings of a fun, mindless popcorn action flick. You’ve got a slightly unhinged soldier working side-by-side with a suicide-squad-esque group of guys to take down a Predator that’s also being targeted by an even bigger Predator. Sounds awesome, right? And with Shane Black behind the wheel, this movie had the potential bring something cool yet different to the table.
At the very least, the film succeeds in doing just that. The change of setting- trading a jungle and city landscape for a quiet suburban environment- and the darkly comedic tone adds a touch of uniqueness. When you put it up against the others in the Predator series, it’ll be easy to pinpoint which one has Black’s fingerprints all over it.
But the fact that it stands out doesn’t mean it does so in a great way. The film is an absolute mess from start to finish. The writing, which is normally one of Black’s strong suits, is surprisingly sloppy. Things seem to happen just for the sake of happening, and characters tend to be poorly introduced, ultimately pointless, or they drop off the face of the movie after a while without a clear explanation. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of Holbrook’s character simply mailing the alien tech to his house. Apparently there is reasoning behind it- my mom connected the dots for me after we left the theater-but is goes by at such lightning speed that it might as well have not been there in the first place. Moments like this reflect just how fractured the narrative is. When the Predators aren’t on-screen, the movie comes off as just a collection of scenes that don’t thread together smoothly.
The actors carry the material to the best of their abilities. They all turn in decent performances, and the soldiers have a solid comradery. The humor doesn’t always work, though their back and forth never feels forced. Their fight scenes with the Predators are as cool as you’d imagine. Speaking of, you’ll be glad to know that everything involving the Predators is fantastic. If you’re someone who couldn’t care less about narrative intricacies and only want to see aliens cutting people in half, then you’re in for a good gore show. I appreciate them using practical makeup to bring the classic Predator to life. Yeah, the Super Predator is a big CGI monster, but it’s still entertaining regardless.
When you break it down, The Predator is not a good movie. I understand what the filmmakers are going for- a fun, mindless sci-fi monster movie with big guns and big kills. And if that’s what you’re exclusively looking for, then you’ll have an absolute blast. Personally, I had an okay time, but for my taste, the film’s ridiculous aspects distract more than they entertain.
Cosmic Grade- 2.7/5 Stars