I’ll say this right up front – I’m a big fan of the original Predator movie, director Shane Black (The Nice Guys, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, Lethal Weapon), and co-writer Fred Dekker (The Monster Squad). When I heard all of those things were coming together to create a new Predator film, I had very little concerns about what the quality of the film would be. Just know that it pains me say that The Predator is an absolute mess – it’s at times both entertaining and fascinating – but it’s still a mess, nonetheless.
The film follows Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), a special-ops sniper who leads a group of tossed-aside soldiers (Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, & Augusto Aguilera), his son, Rory (Jacob Tremblay), and, Casey Bracket, an evolutionary biologist (Olivia Munn) against the mighty Predator – all while being hunted down by a team from their own government led by a man named Traeger (Sterling K. Brown).
From the very outset, The Predator plays like a movie Shane and Fred wrote in the eighties and discarded for better things, complete with well-worn and extremely dated jokes, a wooden, alpha male hero, an astoundingly dumb hot scientist, and bad special FX. It’s like they missed their old heyday and desperately wanted to bring it back, but forgot that we as an audience and as a society have grown beyond it.
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As far as the acting goes, some fare better than others. Let’s rundown the list, shall we?Boyd Holbrook does what he can with the lead role, but can’t rise above the shoddy material he’s given. Sterling K. Brown’s performance as Traeger is one of the worst I’ve ever seen from him. It’s like he wanted to be an amalgamation of every bad 80’s villain and somehow fell short of even that. Olivia Munn has never been more miscast in her life, as she can’t sell being an evolutionary biologist or an action hero to save her life. Keegan-Michael Key somehow even feels off as the loud guy that tells “yo momma” jokes. Jacob Tremblay makes some very odd choices playing a child with Asperger’s, leading to his character feeling less convincing and more downright strange.
One of the few bright lights of the movie is Travante Rhodes’ (Moonlight) Nebraska Williams, who plays one of the ragtag soldiers that acts as Boyd’s second-in-command throughout the film. Not only is he given one of the better back stories of the film, but his performance feels like one of the few believable things in a sea of ridiculousness.
That sea of ridiculousness is fed by a shockingly sloppy script and bad editing, which is surprising coming from Shane Black, as his work is traditionally very clean and trimmed of fat, so to speak. I’m not sure if the studio edited the film to within an inch of its life or the script was honestly this poor. My feeling is that it’s a combination of both.
Finally, the biggest sin of the film is its atrocious FX work, even by 80’s movie standards – to the point that I’m not sure if Shane was trying to make the aforementioned FX look like they were from the 80’s or he just had no budget to work with. This became especially apparent with heavily gory scenes – and even more so when the CGI version of the Predator was used. Pair that with uninventive action and you’ve got a sorry excuse for a Predator movie.
Even with this mounting pile of bad filmmaking blunders, I have to say I still had a bit of fun watching the movie. Partly because of how fascinating a train wreck can be, and partly because some of the team banter was genuinely funny at times. The batting average wasn’t great, but there still were some hits here and there.
In the end, you see what they were aiming for in the distance, and you watch them miss by a mile – which makes for an interesting viewing, in a way. One thing was certain when exiting the theater – despite being entertaining at times, it’s definitely the worst Predator movie.
Directed by Shane Black, The Predator follows a young boy who accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth. Now, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.
The Predator is in theaters now.