20th CENTURY FOX (2018)

 

Director: Shane Black

 

Starring: Boyd Holdbrook, Olivia Munn, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Sterling K. Brown

The Predator is back! Again.

 

Everyone’s favourite funny-faced, dreadlocked hell alien returns to the big screen for the first time since 2010’s Predators and this time, one of the original 1987 movies cast is at the helm – Shane Black. Since that first Predator movie, there has been a slew of mediocrity leading to the hell-freezing Alien vs. Predator and its sequel Requiem, though Predators was a return to form of sorts. This iteration has a bunch of PTSD soldiers attempting to fight off Earth-invading Predators – including an upgraded model.

When a Predator ship crash lands on Earth, sniper Quinn McKenna (Holbrook) manages to escape AND steal some of the alien armour from the crash. An unpaid PO Box ensures these items end up at the house of his ex-wife and autistic son Rory (Tremblay) – and when intrigued Rory has a play with the new toys, he inadvertently sends his location and identity to the Predators hurtling towards Earth to eliminate the Pred from the crash. Grouped with more Government-caught misfits (aka The Loonies) – including ex-Marine Nebraska Williams (Rhodes) – McKenna finds himself trying to save his son whilst simultaneously attempting to fight the bloodthirsty Preds – otherwise known as trying to stay alive.

 

The sixth movie in the messy and seemingly unconnected Predator franchise, The Predator was served up with a promise of something new. Now, I hadn’t expected the Preds to throw down a La La Land-style dance routine, but I was optimistic of a return to the heyday of the original plus some new ways to utilise the main baddy. In fact, The Predator is a bastardization of all six previous movies, and when five of those weren’t very good, that pretty much sums up this movie (which is a shame, really).

 

It seems the franchise just needs Arnie – however, Dutch himself didn’t stick around this time and passed on the chance of a cameo. Leading the pack this time was Boyd Holbrook who, whilst lacking the physical presence of a Schwarzenegger, ably fronts the movie and makes for a convincing action hero – complete with unabashed arrogance. Trevante Rhodes is great to watch here and Olivia Munn is badass with a gun, even if her character is undercooked. The Loonies themselves have some good lines between them but are essentially expendable in the overall framework of the movie.

 

You don’t go to watch a Predator movie to see a potential Oscar-winning picture, you go to watch an ugly alien tearing fools apart left, right and centre. The Predator succeeds on that point, the most entertaining parts of the movie contain Predators unleashed and causing havoc. The other 75% of the movie is made up of messy plot points, rushed attempts to further the narrative and eye-rolling logic stretches (in a movie containing killer space aliens) – i.e. how Rory is able to decode…everything, last-second deus ex machinas, there’s plenty here that’ll make you sigh in your seat. You get Predator dogs (Labrapreds? Predweiler? Predzu?) which look ridiculous, standard bumbling government officials/scientists and the stock bad guy in Will Traeger (Brown). Dodgy CGI and clunky dialogue only help to anchor the movie down further – but, hey, we’re reminded that the gang needs to “get to the choppers” and this time the Pred is a “beautiful motherfucker”. OK, those examples help nothing.

 

Fine, yes, the upgraded Predator (Mega Predator) was ridiculously cool.

 

It’s not all doom and gloom, there’s some good humour to be found (a misguided Tourette’s exchange aside) and the overall feel of the movie does lend itself more to the original effort, which will never be a bad thing. If you’re here for blood and guts, then surely you’ll leave happy about those aspects, at least.

 

Black and co. ambitiously had ideas for a trilogy of Pred movies – the third act is a CHOPPA sized hint at what might come next – however, if they all follow the quality level laid down by The Predator, it’ll be a slightly dreary, bumbling trilogy or, more likely, it won’t get past this effort. The potential was there, but sadly, the franchise may now be over.

September 14th 2018

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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