Hot Take: Fuck me in the face with an aardvark!
Who thought we needed another movie about Predator? Well, whether anyone thought it or not, we got another one. This time (roughly 30 years after the original) The Predator fails miserably despite some whimsical choice of talent to write and direct in Shane Black. Even Black seems disinterested in making an interesting action film here and rather relies on throwing shade on the film’s premise (Why would it be called Predator since it seems to enjoy hunting and doesn’t do it out of necessity? Shouldn’t it be called sports hunter or something? That’s according to more than one of Black’s characters.) and outright mocking the concept of a powerful space alien coming to Earth to hunt for sport. While the film features a witty one-liner here and there (which is why the film ranks a little higher amongst 2018’s bottom feeders), even Black’s wit can’t save this tired franchise from yet another boring reboot.
The Predator opens as a Predator ship crash lands to Earth. The Predator on board uses an escape hatch to get out and immediately crosses path with a military operation taking down a drug cartel. Led by Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), the operation is wiped out with the exception of McKenna who uses the alien’s technology to take down the alien. He’s captured by army officials but not before he can mail the alien artifacts to his estranged family as proof of the alien’s existence. He also swallows the sphere that allows the alien to camouflage themselves. (Couldn’t he have just used the sphere to stay hidden from the officials looking for him?) Once in custody, Quinn is questioned and once the Will Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), the Director of the “Stargazer Project”, thinks he’s sure Quinn has knowledge of the alien, he sends him off to the psych ward. On the bus to the psych ward, Quinn meets the Loonies — Nebraska (Trevante Rhodes) who tried to shoot himself or maybe accidentally did, I really don’t know, Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key) who tells lots of jokes, Baxley (Thomas Jane) who suffers from PTSD and Tourette’s, Lynch (Alfie Allen) who was about as unmemorable of a character as you’ll find in a movie and Nettles (Augusto Aguilera) who provides the foreshadowing that this group will end up in a helicopter because he used to be a helicopter pilot. Meanwhile, Traeger has brought Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) to see the captured Predator and examine him/her (it?) but before she can examine the Predator, it wakes up and escapes. She escapes, too by being naked which I guess the Predator can’t see things with clothes off? Anyway, the Predator escapes, Dr. Bracket chases it as well as Quinn who uses the Loonies to overpower the inept military guards on the bus and then they go after the Predator.
There’s more story here. So much story. It’s amazing how ridiculously complex a movie about an alien coming to Earth can try to be yet still seem so simple and unintelligent. Quinn’s son (Jacob Tremblay) who received the package of alien artifacts is autistic. So, of course, he can easily unlock the alien technology and uncover all of its secrets in a few minutes. Sometimes, he uncovers the technology’s secrets by mistakes like when he’s picked on while Trick or Treating in the Predator mask and the mask is smart enough to blow his bully to bits because it knows the being wearing the mask is in trouble? I don’t know. More importantly, at this point in the film it was hard to care. At 107 minutes, The Predator clocks in at a longer run time than your average half-assed attempt at a reboot/sequel. Also, it feels much longer than 107 minutes as if you asked me immediately following the film how long I was sitting there, my response would have been somewhere between 2 hours and eternity.
Maybe if you’re the biggest fan ever of either Shane Black or The Predator, this half baked sequel might be something you enjoy. It’s excessive cartoon violence and multiple bouts of verbal diarrhea of quip after quite are desensitizing and essentially you reach a point where whenever you do have a positive reaction to what is happening on screen, you’re genuinely surprised. Credit Black for a few winning one-liners but that’s about it. The film’s attempts at nostalgically paying homage to the previous films in the franchise are blatant and it’s efforts to establish something to build on (for future installments, surely) are obvious. By the final act, if you’re still invested, you still might bail as the final showdown with one of the Predators is about as entertaining as a wind sock on a tranquil sunny day. There’s no need for The Predator to be on your radar and don’t bother trying to hunt it down on your streaming service of choice in a few months, either.
You’ve been sticking with this franchise for 30 years and you aren’t going to bail now.
I’m sure there’s at least one previous Predator film or Shane Black written flick you haven’t caught yet that would be a better time investment.