When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.
Let’s just establish something. The Predator franchise has never reached for lofty heights. The original, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, was lucky to nab an Oscar Nom for visual effects, featuring Stan Winston’s brilliant design work. Since then we have seen a hit or miss collection of sequels and spinoffs that even included a battle with the xenomorph from Alien. Predator was a full-on action vehicle for Schwarzenegger, and a fun one at that. So, it is with no surprise that, while the effects have gotten far more sophisticated, the reboot/sequel The Predator is a glossy, gory, hyper-paced edition to the franchise.
Quinn (Boyd Holbrook) is on assignment, as most snipers often are, perched atop a hill awaiting his target. All of a sudden a spaceship pierces the night sky, crashing nearby. Inspecting the wreckage, Quinn has his own encounter with our titular monster before running off with a few pieces of the creature’s equipment and shipping them home to his estranged wife and son Jacob (Rory McKenna). The U.S. Military descends upon the find and throws our soldier into the clink, preparing to brand him as insane to ruin his credibility.
Days later, brilliant scientist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) is contacted by the U.S. Government in hopes of studying their new, living predator specimen. It’s at this same facility that our soldier, Quinn, along with a ragtag collection of military misfits, are being shuttled from one facility to the next. We meet our new set of soldiers Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key), Lynch (Alfie Allen), Nettles (Augusto Aguilera). Resembling a modern version of the A-Team this little clan of discarded soldiers hosts an array of backstories and character ticks. In particular, we are also treated to poor Baxley (Thomas Jane giving a borderline questionable performance of a man with Tourette’s).
That’s when things go horribly wrong. The Predator busts loose in a gloriously gory scene of mayhem and escapes. After a particularly fun sequence, our sexy scientist teams up with the guys and they figure out that the Predator is after the missing pieces from the wreckage. What’s worse, the Predator can track them and knows exactly where they are. It becomes a race to find Quinn’s son Jacob and to defend the planet from The Predator.
Written by Fred Dekker and Shane Black, The Predator leans heavy on action and gore, both human and alien. So that’s a plus but the film also leans hard on self-referential humor. Characters seem to have endless “staircase wit”, spitting out glib one liners amidst unimaginable stress. Okay, it’s an action movie, shut up. But then there are the odd moments where the strangely customized technology can just do what it’s supposed to do, e.g; the shoulder laser cannon that shoots at anything that is threatening it.
If you can’t check your brain at the door then don’t even bother with The Predator. The film is loud, improbable, manufactured within an inch of its life, and takes absolutely no real risks with the franchise. If you want action movie comfort food, This might be your movie. Otherwise go watch Annihilation again.
(2018) Shane Black
Written By: Fred Dekker, Shane Black
Staring: Boyd Holbrook, Quinn McKenna, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Casey Bracket
6 out of 10 stars