The Thrill Of The Hunt Is Gone In The Predator

by Ben Martin

The Predator series has needed some new neon green blood pumped into it. Outside of the original classic, Predator (1987) and the Dark Horse comic book series’ which in various arcs from 1991-2010, and video games; the property that is Predator has had a hard time finding its footing on the silver screen. Neither of the original movie’s sequels has worked. Predator 2 (1990) is a bit of a fun product of its time. Alas, the movie is also largely redundant and boring. Predators (2010) is a movie that I remember being fine, albeit, utterly forgettable. And, of course, there also those terrible spinoffs concerning feuds with Xenomorphs.
When I heard that none other Shane Black (Iron Man 3) was going to be taking the reins on the alien hunter, I became excited. I’ve always liked Black as a writer and director, respectively or combined. It’s undeniable that the guy has skill and style, but he’s also one of the more original voices in screenwriting. Beyond that, Black, like Predator, comes from the 1980s, having made his bones writing Lethal Weapon (1987). More importantly though, Black was familiar with Predator as he played Hawkins in the first film. Hoping to bring all that 80s glory into our current day; Black brought on his co-writer on The Monster Squad (1987), Fred Dekker to help pen The Predator.
The new movie begins with Army sniper, Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) on a mission to rescue hostages. Alas, things go awry when The Predator’s  (Brain Prince) ship crash lands in the woods nearby. In the fight that follows, McKenna manages to get a piece of armor off The Predator. Before being hauled into a psych evaluation at the VA; McKenna ships the armor to his P.O. box in hopes of providing proof of The Predator and thereby clearing himself. Alas, the armor arrives at McKenna’s house instead, where its opened by his young son, Rory (Jacob Tremblay). The curious kid quickly finds that he can operate the alien technology. Soon, not only are the Predators in pursuit of their technology and thereby the kid. A top-secret military unit wants the tech as well. The clock’s ticking as McKenna, a group mentality unstable military men, and scientist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) must save Rory before either villainous military unit or the Predators get to him.

That plot synopsis above is part of one very sloppy movie. One which miraculously, is well shot and boasts some good gore. Alas, outside of those qualities, The Predator offers nothing. This film is just competent enough to make it to the big- screen. After having several negative test screenings, this movie went through various re-shoots.

During this process, the release date of The Predator was pushed back three times. Moreover, the last quarter of the movie had to be completely reshot. Blame it on studio interference if you want. The fact of the matter is though that The Predator is an absolute choppy mess of a movie. Worse yet is the fact that despite all the action sequences, this is an incredibly dull picture.
The main component that makes this flick such a sluggish affair is its cast of characters. Most of whom are not only unlikeable but stereotypical. It’s as if Black and Dekker set out to make a comedy; One Flew Over The Predator’s Nest if you will; which ultimately falls flat. There’s too much comedy in this picture, and very little of it’s funny. Even more problematic is the fact that characters’ mental issues are used for comedic fodder. That is until they go into battle; at which point, the characters are suddenly cured of their mental and emotional woes. Thus, while the cast of actors here is quite good, they’re given nothing to work with character-wise.

Sadly, that isn’t where the irresponsible character treatment ends. The character of Rory has autism, and in typical Hollywood fashion, he’s a bit of a savant. Thus, he understands the Predator technology, thereby setting the plot in motion. The film defines Rory as being autistic, as opposed to building him as a full-fledged character who happens to have autism. Defining anyone, fictional or otherwise by their mental or physical situation or disability is something I find to be offensive. Alas, The Predator embraced such an approach with Rory; going so far as to also use the character’s being autistic as an atrocious plot-point as well. While I don’t think Black and Dekker intended to be so tasteless, it certainly comes across that way.
In the end, I feel The Predator is the worst movie that Shane Black has done thus far. It’s weak in every respect and is possibly the worst installment in this franchise. Despite having some excellent Easter egg connections to the previous three entries; the movie in review does not even feel like a proper Predator movie. Gone is the suspense and mystery that these flicks are built upon with lousy comedy serving as a poor substitute. I don’t recommend this movie at all; particularly if you’re a fan of this series. Just stay home and watch Predator or read one of the comic books which it inspired.

The Predator Is In Theaters Now!

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