Shane Black’s The Predator is violent and funny but marred by a poor script, plotholes, muddled structure and pacing issues which, ultimately, detract from its entertainment value.
The formidable alien hunter known as the ‘Predator’ crash lands on earth once again; this time followed and hunted by one of his own – a biologically enhanced, superior Predator. Witness to the alien and its vessel, Captain Quinn Mckenna (Holbrook) is taken into questioning by the government, whose team, led by Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), will stop at nothing to recoup the alien ship and its cargo. McKenna’s genius young son Rory (Tremblay), however, has control of precious items from the ship and therefore becomes involved. Likewise, biologist Casey Bracker (Olivia Munn) and a rag-tag bunch of PTSD-riddled ex-soldiers all get in the mix of trying to take down the Predator, while trying to survive its onslaught.
The Predator features one too many sub characters and plots for its own good, lacking simplicity – a simplicity that made 1987’s original Predator film so much more enjoyable. Back then it was just a bunch of soldiers being tracked and hunted by a more advanced species and featured plenty of tension and horror. Thirty years later and the newly rebooted Predator film is subject to the modern era’s most lacklustre trope – that of the blueprint blockbuster. Even still, there are a lot of highly enjoyable blueprint blockbusters, which proves that something must have gone wrong along the way if the filmmakers couldn’t stick to the schematics. This comes in the way of plotholes and a lack of character development, due to a breakneck pace that doesn’t give the audience much room to breathe. And when it does, the filler is tedious to a fault.
Boyd Holbrook does a commendable job as the film’s hero and his new troupe of ex-military comrades all have their own unique personalities, that get a chance to shine but not to the point where the audience really ends up caring for anyone. While there are plenty of people being murdered left-right-and-centre in The Predator, we never feel a sense of fear or suspense leading up to the kills, and by this point of the franchise’s long history, the actual Predators themselves look somewhat farcical compared to their initial introduction some thirty years ago. The new Predator featured in this film, itself just a taller version of the old one, so nothing to see there.
The film is not without some redeeming qualities, however. Its violence is brutal and welcome – a tribute to the original film. A Predator film without the blood and gore, can simply not be classified as a Predator film. Secondly, the film is funny. The dialogue and interactions between the film’s characters feature some witty banter, which makes for a nice respite from the rest of the film’s failings. The action is also plentiful, with Predator vs human, Predator vs Predator and human vs human action galore. Sadly, it’s the in-between stuff, the glue, so to speak, that doesn’t stick.
Highly skilled writer and director Shane Black has, unfortunately, missed the mark with what was obviously a labour of love for him (he did star in the original film, after all). Whether it was studio involvement or simply a lack of foresight that hindered the film’s production is hard to say. But the end result is essentially a shambles. A mildly entertaining shambles.
Benicio Del Toro was originally supposed to star in the lead role but he was replaced by Boyd Holbrook due to scheduling conflicts.