FILM REVIEW: THE PREDATOR
BY SCOTT PETERSON
It’s been over thirty years since Arnold Schwarzenegger’s man vs alien action extravaganza Predator captivated audiences worldwide. Since then, the story of an invincible alien hunting humans for sport and collecting skulls as trophies has spawned many lackluster attempts at replicating and rebooting the Predator franchise. Even an effort to have the Predator square off against the Xenomorphs (Alien Vs Predator) in Sigourney Weaver’s beloved Alien franchise was an unmitigated disaster. Enter writer/director Shane Black. The man responsible for such timeless classics such as Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Last Boy Scout, was hired to infuse some much-needed life into an outdated and languishing franchise with The Predator.
After two rival alien spaceships crash land in Mexico, American military sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) stumbles upon one of the ships and fearing that no one will believe him, mails some of the alien equipment to his ex-wife Emily (Yvonne Strahovski) and his young autistic son Rory (Jacob Tremblay). Meanwhile the U.S. government led by Agent Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) catches wind of Quinn’s discovery and arrests him and throws him on a bus with a group of discarded soldiers played by Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera and Keegan Michael-Key. Traeger also enlists the help of a scientist Casey ( Olivia Munn) to help identify the aliens and their genetic makeup. After Rory accidentally sets off a tracking device in one of the objects, the race is on as the government and the alien “predators” descend on suburbia to retrieve the missing equipment. It’s up to Quinn and his feeble band of military misfits to get to Rory first.
If the plot sounds convoluted, wait until you actually see the film. Sort of like a Michael Bay Transformers movie, we jump from set piece to set piece as an excuse to show maximum carnage. The main issue with Black’s The Predator is that tonally, it can’t quite decide whether it wants to be an action film or a comedy, and it fails miserably at both. The film is littered with cringe worthy one liners and eye rolling attempts at humor. At one point I thought I was watching a Farrelly Brothers movie and half expected Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunn to burst on to the screen. When The Predator isn’t pandering for laughs, it’s bludgeoning you over the head with its graphic and senseless violence. Anyone buying a ticket for this film expects violence, but when it’s scene after scene, it becomes desensitizing. It’s like watching someone else play a video game for two hours. Where is the fun in that? While I was never bored,The Predator is a joyless and disappointing mess. Ardent fans of Shane Black and Predator deserved so much better.