It’s been 31 years since Shane Black was last involved in a Predator film; the last time he was in front of the camera as the relatively scrawny, eyeglasses-wearing Rick Hawkins, this time he returns at the helm as the writer and director. Between then and now there have been four other Predator films, all mostly tepid except for 2010’s Predators, which was at least decent. This time The Predator is actually as much fun of an outing as we’re likely going to get. Did I say it’s great? No, but it’s a blast of a popcorn ride.
In a similar fashion to most of the franchise, The Predator isn’t really a horror film. At best it’s a thriller, but mostly it’s action. We know all about the alien’s abilities and bag of tricks, so we don’t really get much tension build up when you can pick one out that’s cloaked in a scene in a few seconds flat. That said the film doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to a solid body count with plenty of gruesome deaths.
Black knows how to write a snappy dialogue script, with his background ranging from Lethal Weapon to Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. The trailers showed a confusing mash-up of action sequences and near-camp comedic quips (was this going for more of a Scream vibe). As it turns out the levity stems from the fact that this time the main company of humans are all military vets incarcerated for being a few fries short of a happy meal. Their various flavors of crazy are what cause them to deep dive in the humor of a tense situation.
Quinn McKenna (played by Boyd Holbrook) is a special forces sniper on a mission when a Predator escape pod crash-lands on top of his position. When the military show up they decide to sit on Quinn and toss him into the looney bin with the others. The military knows full well what’s going on (they’ve seen some of the earlier movies it seems), and taps Doctor Casey Bracket (played by Olivia Munn, who handily delivers the film’s best performance) to come in and help examine some of their findings.
It turns out there’s another Predator who’s coming to look for their survivor and the humans find out quickly that it’s not wise to get in the way of their reunion.
There’s a number of things about the film that’s silly and less than ideally thought out. However in the first several scenes it’s established that everyone is out to make a fun ride for the audience, rather than trying to scare them out of their wits. It’s no Aliens, but it’s at least a respectable hybrid. It’s not too scary, it successfully nails being a fun-action vibe, and it definitely plays around a bit with the logic and rules of it’s mythos. Don’t expect greatness, or any jump scares, but there is a lot of wicked deaths and moderate gore. In the end it’s a Predator film, so grab the popcorn and settle in for a fun time (it’s still infinitely better than any non-animated Transformers movie).
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