Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Movie Review: "The Predator" (2018)

Director: Shane Black
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

An Army sniper finds a crashed Predator ship in the jungle while on a mission. He steals some of its technology and mails it back to his home as evidence, but his son opens the package. Now, this Predator wants his stuff back, so he comes to collect it in the suburbs. There is even more danger when it turns out this Predator has brought a larger, more threatening super-mega-Predator following right behind him.

The Predator 2018 movie still
"We're an endangered species, and they know it." (Image Source)
Shane Black finally goes full circle. He went from playing Hawkins in the original "Predator" to writing and directing "The Predator," the latest installment in the franchise a full 31 years later. Besides playing Hawkins, Shane Black has also directed many of films we love, including "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," "Iron Man 3," and "The Nice Guys." Also working on the screenplay is Fred Dekker, who collaborated with Shane Black in the past on the screenplay for the 1980's classic "The Monster Squad." This installment in the franchise centers on an Army sniper named Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook). While on a mission out in the jungle, he sees a spaceship crash. Upon investigating, he finds a bunch of Predator technology, which he promptly steals and mails back to his P.O. Box in the U.S., which gets rerouted to his house where his autistic son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) and wife? ex-wife? separated wife? Emily (Yvonne Strahovski) live because he didn't pay his bill. There, Rory finds the tech and activates it, unintentionally drawing the Predator who wants his shit back right to his location. It also attracts a second enemy: a much larger, much taller, more dangerous Predator who has its own separate mission in mind.
The Predator 2018 Alfie Allen Trevante Rhodes Boyd Holbrook Keegan Michael Key Thomas Jane Shane Black
"How'd you score a ticket on this shit-mobile?" (Image Source)
Sit tight, kids, this one's gonna be a bumpy ride. We are big fans of the 1987 "Predator" film, but with each installment, the franchise has gotten weaker and weaker. "Predator 2" tried to bring the series to a more urban setting where they upped the body count and added some gratuitous sex to put butts in seats. "Predators" tried to capture a similar situation to the original with a twist: it takes place on a different planet with some new creatures and bigger, more dangerous Predators. "The Predator" brings the story into a more populated setting, but with an even bigger and badder??? predator, while also adding a bunch of self-aware comedy and numerous callbacks into the mix.

Though we aren't huge fans of what has become of this series, we had hope for "The Predator" since we are fans of almost all of Shane Black's past films. Imagine our surprise that Black, who is known more for his writing than his directing, would offer up such a poorly written, disjointed, messy, problematic script. The jokes, and believe us, there are a lot of them, almost always fell flat for us. The callbacks and flashes of fan service are abundant in number, but feel forced and sometimes entirely out of place. There is a cliche hostage situation at the end of the movie that not only breaks the established character traits of the antagonists but also goes directly against earlier dialogue that set up the Modus operandi of the Predator characters. This contrived scene has only been added to give the heroes an opportunity to perform a daring rescue, but for those of us who were paying attention, it is irritating as hell to have to sit in a theater unable to concentrate because of the blatant disregard for the script's continuity. And speaking of the script, who thinks it's a good idea to use autism as a plot device in 2018? Furthermore, who thinks using Tourette syndrome as a punchline in 2018 will make people think positively about a film? Who thinks watching a kid with autism literally kill someone only for this plot point to be completely glossed over will sit well with people upon reflection post-film? Is it just us? Yes? No? No...???
The Predator 2018 Olivia Munn Boyd Holbrook Jacob Tremblay Shane Black
"I figured something out. We're gonna fucking die." (Image Source)
Beyond the bad writing, "The Predator" lacks any of the tension that was present and abundant in the first film. This particular Predator never feels like an imminent threat that could be lurking around the corner hunting any of the human characters. It doesn't ever feel like an intense game of cat and mouse, it's more like a boring ride through some city suburbs with a few minor hiccups along the way. This movie is much more focused on its big action sequences, which makes it feel like "generic action flick no. 5,856" instead of something genuinely enthralling. The special effects range from "great" to "holy shit, this movie cost $88 million to make?!" in the blink of an eye (think: baseball field). Another problem is we really don't care about most of the human characters, which is a damn shame since there are some terrific actors here. Boyd Holbrook plays an asshole who is good at his job since it's "kind of the fuckin' point to pose a threat." He kills because it's his job, not because he likes it, and that's what makes him a soldier, not a killer. *EYEROLL* Olivia Munn, try as she might, is basically relegated to "scientific exposition lady." Though she probably gives one of the better performances in this disappointment, she goes from being a regular ol' scientist to a Rambo-esque killer in the blink of an eye and without much fanfare. Keegan-Michael Key plays to type, only with a big gun in his hand. As per usual, Thomas Jane sucks. Alfie Allen gets absolutely nothing to do. Trevante Rhodes is fine here but plays second fiddle to Holbrook's shenanigans. Jacob Tremblay('s parents) needs to fire his agent immediately. Sterling K. Brown chews gum and says "fuck" the whole movie. And the Predators? Well, the Predators aren't even the main threat of the film for the first two-thirds of its runtime. That being said, the third act contains some genuinely entertaining Predator action, but by then, it's too little, too late.
The Predator 2018 Olivia Munn Shane Black
"You want to know if someone fucked an alien." (Image Source)
"The Predator" is the highest budgeted Predator movie to date. Though it is bigger and shinier with more special effects than ever before, it winds up being the weakest entry into the franchise, other than the "AvP" movies (which we basically ignore and forget exist). We are sad to say this is a movie that should be skipped. Just re-watch Arnold Schwarzenegger do his sweaty, muscly thing in the original and you'll probably have much more fun.

My Rating: 3.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.1/10
RT Rating: ~33%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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