I don’t even know where to begin with this one.
People often criticize, and perhaps fairly so, Marvel or other studio franchise films for having too many jokes at the expense of the film not taking itself seriously enough. That may often be the case, but when comparing any of those movies to The Predator, Thor: Ragnarok suddenly looks like Schindler’s List.
The first Predator movie was released in 1987 and was an instant hit. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dutch, Predator was not only a campy '80s action movie but one that actually elicited some scares and was pretty well thought-out.
Predator 2 three years later, bringing the deadly creature into the suburban setting with Danny Glover and Gary Busey. And it’s fine. I know some people have pretty strong feelings about Predator 2, whether those be positive or negative feelings, but I’m pretty whatever about it.
Fast-forward to 2010 and we get Predators with Adrien Brody; a movie that I actually kind of love but seems to have been forgotten by most fans of the franchise out there at this point.
Now, it’s Shane Black’s turn to take a crack at it with The Predator — a movie that had all the stars aligned for it but still goes so wrong in so many ways.
Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is a military sniper out on assignment in Central America when he first comes in contact with a predator. After seeing the creature’s spaceship crash-land right next to him and then witnessing the creature itself tear through his team of fellow soldiers, it doesn’t take McKenna long to figure out that this is not a friendly extra-terrestrial.
McKenna lives to tell the tale, and then some, as he’s able to scoop up a few pieces of alien technology that he found on the ship.
He’s also not an idiot (or at least, he says he’s not) and knows that either the government or the alien itself is soon going to come looking for that technology. So, he does the safe and responsible thing by mailing all of it to his ex-wife, Emily (Yvonne Strahovski, who I never noticed looks so much like Portia de Rossi until The Predator), and his son, Rory (Jacob Tremblay).
As he expected, McKenna is indeed brought in by the government and given a psych evaluation. He’s deemed crazy, of course, after he spouts out the truth about coming face-to-face with an alien while out in the middle of the jungle.
With his team dead, the government plans to blame McKenna for the murders and puts him on a bus headed full of other military criminals that’s headed straight for prison.
Those other military criminals include the loud-mouth, Nettles (Augusto Aguilera); the louder-mouth, Baxley (Thomas Jane); the quick-thinking loud-mouth, Nebraska (Trevante Rhodes); the snarky loud-mouth, Lynch (Alfie Allen); and the loudest mouth of them all, Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key). I wasn’t kidding about the non-stop jokes, honestly.
Before their bus makes it that far, the predator makes it reappearance and begins threatening humankind and whatnot, meaning this team of misfits all need to team up to make their way back to the equipment that they stole before the monster does.
Shane Black might have been the perfect choice to direct The Predator (on paper, at least). He actually starred in a supporting role in the first Predator and has more or less been trying to get the rights to the property ever since. His snarky, bloody style seen in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or The Nice Guys seems like it could be a natural fit for something like this.
Which is why it’s so baffling that this project goes wrong in so many different ways.
To be fair, there are people out there who are going to hate this movie a lot more than I did. I certainly don’t think it’s a good film, but I didn’t hate myself while I was watching it. The hardcore Predator fans (I like the first one but I don’t hold it on this sacred pedestal like others) are going to see this movie and come away very, very angry.
Which is understandable, because a lot of The Predator really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and the parts that do make sense are usually just plain stupid.
Everything in this movie is so in-your-face, trying to be cool in the way that would appeal to a thirteen-year-old. Black’s way of doing that is by making this thing as vulgar and bloody as possible, but he does so with absolutely no class. Characters drop the f-bomb every other line just because they can and human intestines fly around left and right, all just because this is The Predator and that’s what Black thinks this movie needs.
To be clear, there’s a way to make something super R-rated and vulgar and still make it work — just look at Deadpool 2. The Predator’s mistake is thinking that’s the only thing this movie needs, as the writing behind this thing is atrocious. Lines and dialogue the characters say literally don’t make any kind of sense because their sentences are just so jammed full of cuss words to the point where it becomes a distraction.
Which brings up the whole humor element once again, which I couldn’t stand. I’m okay if a movie wants to tell jokes and lighten the mood. When you’re dealing with a ridiculous concept like this, that’s probably a good thing, and the thing I liked most about the first Predator was the back-and-forth within the team. Everything is a punchline in The Predator. Everything. I maybe chuckled a few times, but most of the jokes aren’t all that funny (some are even borderline offensive) as they just keep coming one after another.
Arguably worse than the humor is the editing, made clear by the very opening scene. The Predator feels like a three-hour movie that Black was forced to cut down to two hours, as everything happens at such a whirlwind pace it’s nearly impossible to keep up at times. In fact, it feels like there are literally chunks of this movie missing, as characters will say something like “Hey, it’s good to see you came back, man,” even though the person that they’re talking to never even left in the first place.
That’s all operating under the assumption that you’ll actually be able to see what’s going on in The Predator, which isn’t a given. This whole movie is really darkly lit, to the point where it’s really hard to tell what’s happening during the night scenes. Also, it’s kind of just ugly looking overall. The CGI isn’t very good, the color palette is bland and the cinematography just feels really uninspired.
The part that I liked about The Predator most, surprisingly, was the part I expected to hate the most — the lore of the monsters themselves. I actually like the whole evolution aspect that’s tacked on to the monsters, and I totally buy the reason why both these predators specifically have come to Earth and the larger reason why they’ve been seen on earth more and more in recent years. Had the movie gone further down that angle, we might have a whole different story on our hands here.
Instead, Black takes The Predator down a road that’s full of adolescent humor and Jar Jar Binks-like predator dogs (I’m not kidding). And the ending. Oh dear God, don’t get me started on that ending. The Predator is a movie that had a lot of good things going for it, but just can’t quite pull the trigger on any of them.
Watch the trailer for The Predator here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought about the movie!
'The Predator' review: And y'all thought Marvel had too many jokes4