director: Shane Black
writer: Shane Black & Fred Dekker
starring: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay and Olivia Munn
genre: Action | Horror | Reboot
released: 13 September 2018 (Australia, Germany & Greece), 14 September 2018 (USA)
Going back to basics almost always pays off, especially with the way audiences have now accepted soft reboots over clear cut remakes as the norm. ‘The Predator’ is no different in that it follows many of the elements of the first ‘Predator’ films that worked and tossed elements that supposedly didn’t. Which thankfully for audiences still ends up being a fun, bloody and action packed ride that goes way to far with its over complication of setting, plot and effects.
The reported visits of the Predator species continue, with another Predator incoming to the planet and carrying special cargo. The only person fit to tackle the Predator issue is Army Sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) who assembles a motley crew of army rejects and inevitably find out his true mission and purpose on Earth.
If there was any way of bringing this series back, this was one of them. Following the army unit set up, with the one unknown member entering the crew, but with a few twists in the mix for it all to work. Now they were some oddball elements thrown into the mix as well such as the abnormally large Predator (that the cheap quality effects didn't help) and also the moving away from the horror element of the series towards the action. Which only leads this series to becoming less believable and more high scale monster mash action rather than brute survival that the first films were about. As the goal now isn't convincing audiences how can a human survive against the ultimate predator, but how much fun and ludicrous can you make the stakes, which is the same goal as almost every other Hollywood studio film.
For example the film starts off in a ‘Star Wars’ like fashion that killed the realism immediately, secondly the forced off hand jokes from the get go weren’t needed either and the amount of times where the film didn't keep anything close to the chest was disappointing. Such as things being revealed to us the audience first and not at the same time with the characters. Good example of this is in the beginning of the film and the Predator’s introduction to the world and that SPOILERS he was being chased by another Predator. Or, the fact that humor was placed from the beginning of the film, rather than having it start when Sniper Quinn first meets his new army crew of misfits.
Now this could have been due to a decision from the studio or the comedy friendly director Shane Black to get a greater general audience number by making it more “inviting”. However, such things kill many of the reasons why you would have liked the original ‘Predator’ films in the first place. As lets not forget it was the practical creatures effects of Stan Winston that were realistic and cool, the ultimate action hero in Arnie or even the ultimate hero cop in Danny Glover going up against the ultimate hunter in gruesome fashion. In addition, by making the lead character of Quinn be a joker of sorts, didn’t lead to much differentiation between him and his crew.
Having said that, the film does have its charm and still is a bit of fun. Firstly the cast, which as mentioned doesn't have any big name actors compared to the likes of Arnie or Danny Glover, but aren’t schlubs either. Boyd Holbrook from ‘Narcos’ fame leads the pack and does a fine job, but his character could have had some extra work done, namely his comedic punch lines. Then there is Thomas Jane who I didn’t expect getting such a low level character role in his career, but makes the best of it and with him are also names like Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn and Yvonne Strahovski to fill out the cast. In addition, to the cast is the character traits of their characters that do work except Boyd’s character especially in his army crew. Sadly, there is also the human villain in the film while well played didn’t have any good arguments for why the government was being so dark and secretive with their dealings on the Predators Earth activity.
Lastly, there is the overall handling by writer-director Shane Black, who as mentioned knows how to handle comedy and action, but not so much horror. Leaving the film be R-Rated in spectacle, but not in tone. And as expected the film ends with a teaser of what’s to come in a possible sequel. However, not everyone wants to see the kind of film they are pushing. Not to mention the ending could have gone a different route that would have been far cooler and a cliffhanger of epic and bloody proportions.
If your calling is action, sci-fi and if your of the right age then ‘The Predator’ is not a bad choice in terms of some casual entertainment. It has quite few laughs, a good range of actors and standard plot development with its glitzy action that is still a thousand times better than ‘AVP’ 1 and 2. So it does count as something.