As the latest franchise to be revived by Hollywood, the “Predator” films have always captured audiences with their thrilling action, quippy dialogue and humor, impressive special effects and unique costume design.
Writer/director Shane Black’s “The Predator” attempts to touch on each of those traits of the first three films, but instead crash-lands well off course, turning in what is easily the worst of the three Predator films and delivers something closer to the abhorrent Alien vs. Predator movies.
The premise of the film is cliched, and falls painfully short of being intriguing. One normal-sized Predator lands on Earth after being chased by a larger Predator that begins to hunt the normal one. The humans caught in the middle of the latest chase are a group of escaping Marine veterans led by Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) who meet up with Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) as they search for McKenna’s son who now has some of the Predator’s technology. Attempting to track them is a group of agents led by Will Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) who hope to capture the Predators and learn more about them.
Sound familiar? That would be because essentially each part of the plot feels recycled from one of the earlier Predator movies, as well as bits from other sci-fi films. Now all the film needs is for it to take place almost entirely in the jungle with a bunch of misfits who all push each other around in good fun as they’re being chased by Predators. Wait — that’s all in there too.
The action itself is uninspiring, and falls into the all-too-common trap plenty of modern franchise reboots fall into, which is that the gore is over the top and half the kills are meant to bring about laughs instead of gasps. And, instead of presenting the Predators with new technology with which to use to hunt the humans, the aliens primarily use either their hands or the same blades they’ve used in every film. Bracket says throughout the film that the Predators are evolving. If that means getting bigger, she’d be correct. If she means getting smarter, well, no.
Speaking of, the newest Predator to join the franchise is quite possibly the only half-decent part of the film. The new Predator isn’t a messy attempt at improving a classic look, something not uncommon to franchise reboots (see “Alien: Resurrection”). Instead, it’s a Predator that retains the same general appearance but is a little bit taller and loses most of the armor, essentially having everything it needs built into its body. Could it have been better? Sure, but considering it wasn’t a total disaster, it will do.
The actors, on the other hand, are almost all a complete disaster. Holbrook is a flat, boring character who does nothing but deliver corny jokes as he fights to save his son. Munn also delivers an uninspiring performance as a character who doesn’t seem to know if she’s a mediocre scientist or a trained soldier (hint: the movie would probably have you believe it’s more of the latter). Brown cashes in a forgettable performance with only moments of charisma that don’t really add much to the plot. The remaining cast members provide the audience with the stereotypical group of sidekicks who make the occasional attempts at humor that are never funny and almost always cringe-inducing.
For fans of the franchise, “The Predator” is an absolute travesty of a film that has an insultingly bad final act, poor performances from nearly every actor and over-the-top gore without the backing of well-shot action scenes. For moviegoers in general, it’s one of the worst movies of 2018 and well worth skipping.
Take the money you’d spend on a ticket and go pay to watch the original. Or burn the cash. That would be a more worthwhile use of your time.