The Predator Movie Review
I believe the 1987 PREDATOR starring Arnold Schwarzenegger to be one of the very best science fiction action movies ever made. It helps that it was directed by John McTiernan who also directed perhaps the very best action movie ever made the very next year in DIE HARD. Although to a much lesser extent, I also really enjoyed PREDATOR 2 starring Danny Glover. Then in 2010, I still had a lot of fun with PREDATORS starring Adrien Brody. I say all this to explain that I’m a fan of the Predator franchise. (Okay I admit, I ignore the ALIEN vs. PREDATOR world). I hope this gives credence to my fandom, slight anticipation, and mostly forgiving attitude toward the franchise with such a compelling lead character.
With writer,director and supporting actor from the original PREDATOR, Shane Black (KISS KISS BANG BANG, IRON MAN 3, THE NICE GUYS) at the helm, I was completely on board with the new one. Even as I watch the trailers since seeing the film, I think it looks like a fun time. Sadly, it is with great disappointment that I ultimately did not enjoy the newest installment of THE PREDATOR.
THE PREDATOR opens with a much larger ship chasing a smaller ship, foreshadowing a poorly kept reveal that happens about halfway through the film. The smaller ship escapes in a crash landing to earth witnessed by a highly skilled military sniper, Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), during a mission. He narrowly escapes the encounter using some of the Predator’s impressive gadgets lost from the crash. A solid opening and engaging setup for sure.
However, the government, led by the typical irrational bad guy movie stereotype, played with great fun by Sterling K. Brown, is in hot pursuit. They have been tracking all the Predators visits to earth ever since Arnold yelled, “Get to da choppa!” We get a little more unnecessary backstory and plot to the Predator objective, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. We also get another team of interesting personalities that McKenna meets on the military crazy bus that includes: a guy who shot an officer (Trevante Rhodes), a jokester (Keegan-Michael Key), a guy suffering from Tourettes’s syndrome (Thomas Jane), a sleight of hand artist (Alfie Allen), and a creepy guy they refer to as being biblical (Augusto Aguilera). Making fast friends with what quickly becomes, comedians in vehicles shooting guns, McKenna’s ragtag crew join forces with a scientist (Olivia Munn) who seems to understand better than anyone that “the Hunter” would be a better suited name than “the Predator.”
THE PREDATOR has all the ingredients for a fun, action-packed, sci-fi flick. but it never really comes together. There are lots of jokes that are only mildly funny. There is a lot of action and gratuitous violence that is mostly forgettable. There are some interesting characters with great actors that never get to stretch their legs. The longer the 101 minute film goes, the more it unravels and feel longer than it ever should. Rather than being hunted, the plot centers around a search and recover mission. Then when we finally get to the sport of a predator hunting our heroes, it’s way too rushed and poorly edited. Afterwards, I’m sure you will be asking when a certain character bit the dust.
Maybe my love for the Predators (who are still ultra cool by the way) made my expectations a bit too high for this sort of film, but THE PREDATOR is easily the worst of the lot (again not counting AVP). It’s overstuffed and convoluted for what it should be and I didn’t even mention McKenna’s autistic son (Jacob Tremblay), who is able to communicate and understand the advanced technology. The poor level of special effects run rampant throughout the film which is a constant distraction while the actions and reactions of the characters seem straight out of a B-rated Mystery Science Theater film. While THE PREDATOR starts strong in exciting fashion based in reality, it ventures into a cartoony path with little pay-off. Ultimately the film tries too hard and the characters, action, gadgets, humor, cool Predator hunting techniques were never utilized to their fullest potential. If you are a fan like I am, then you’ll have to see THE PREDATOR regardless of what I say. But perhaps I can lower your expectations enough so that you might find it passable in a dumb fun sort of way. I, however, did not.