Review: The Predator (2018)

“That’s not a predator, that’s a sports hunter.”

*This review may contain spoilers*

The Predator is a sci-fi action continuation of the famous Predator franchise, directed by Shane Black (The Nice Guys, Iron Man 3) and stars Boyd Holbrook (Narcos, Logan), Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse, Mortdecai) and Sterling K. Brown (Hotel Artemis, Black Panther). When an alien spacecraft crash lands in a nearby forest, a group of soldiers and a scientist team up to pursue a dangerous Predator, unknowing that an even bigger threat is also on the hunt.

The original Predator is highly regarded among horror fans as being one of the greatest movies in the sci-fi horror genre. I enjoy all the previous films (including the trashy AVP spin-offs!), so I hoped to act as a devil’s advocate against the relentless onslaught of negative criticism towards this sequel. As the film came to around the 40-minute mark, I found myself giving The Predator the benefit of the doubt far too many times, with several missed opportunities, ill-advised creative decisions and a complete disregard for all logic.

I was open to the idea of remixing the template of the Predator series, as the film opens with an exciting spaceship battle, followed with the classic campy dialogue and confirmation that obscene violence was still a key component. Our lead then decides to digest an unknown alien object and mail Predator tech to his wife and sons address, which leads the Predator directly to his family and also sees his young son accidentally murder an innocent man and walk it off with a joke. I realised early on that The Predator is definitely not a sci-fi horror, but instead followed the recent trend of pushing humour into every film, despite whether it is compatible or necessary. Director Black has made at least two fantastic films, one in which is The Nice Guys which I revisit regularly, all of which show a clear competence in comedy, so I re-positioned my defensive stance. Willing to accept that this was now a comedy action movie, I found many of the jokes did land and I was having somewhat a good time with these characters. Each member of the team is introduced as to having their own quirk, but that is unfortunately all we get from these paper-thin comic reliefs. Keegan-Michael Key and Thomas Jane make the most out of what they were given, but they quickly lose their effectiveness when literally every other character is consistently quipping during circumstances that are highly stressful. All tension and fear for these characters lives is bled from scenes every time the team delivers a one-liner, in which they are relentless in their pursuit for a laugh. Sterling K Brown is one of the most exciting up and coming actors in Hollywood at the moment, which made it even more tragic that he is easily the most misguided character in the film. His character opens with a quality of dominance and a fun charisma, but quickly declines into the cool villain who chews gum and swears in literally every sentence, theorizing exactly what is happening with little evidence and laughing his way through every situation.

In a desperate attempt to have Olivia Munn take her clothes off, The Predator accidentally provides a scene that I didn’t know I wanted until it happened. Being the only scene with any tension building and layered action, the Predator tears through a room of scientists as he slowly makes his way towards a naked, defenseless Munn who is cowering in a decontamination chamber. The organic Predator suit looks fantastic and the violence is satisfyingly brutal, sparking some hope for the remainder of the film. Unfortunately, like many of the great ideas in The Predator, this scene is subsequently impaired by a revelation that this Predator is here to help mankind but has killed almost everyone on the base. Munn, who is playing a Biologist, then sprints after this horrifying alien with a gun, jumps on top of a moving bus and tries to murder our team of soldiers with a shotgun. As with most of the cast, Munn isn’t to blame for the disappointing, uninvesting character, with the finger being pointed directly at a lazy screenplay and poor storytelling from the director, who was more concerned on whether the film sounds and looks trendy than it making logical sense.

Scenes are cut to shreds, leaving me baffled as to what I had missed for character positioning to make sense. As our cast enters a bus ready to locate McKenna’s son, the scene cuts to our characters in multiple different areas that appears to miss a scene in-between. For much of the movie, I didn’t know where anyone was, who was doing what or who was speaking to who! Then the worst happens… I had one critical demand of The Predator from the outset – please do not give me a giant CGI Predator. The film doesn’t just subject us to a hideous CGI mess of an “evolved” Predator but adds two horrible Predator dogs that come across as video game enemies, in which one of them is strangely lobotomised to become a playful pet. The story then plays out as a messy CGI showdown, bumping off characters with little to no emotional weight and broken sequences that are strung together to form a linear story. Our moronic heroes lose all sense, explaining one minute they should stick together then immediately splitting up to fight the cartoon Predator, shooting it even after deciding bullets don’t affect it and then killing themselves with their own weapons or by jumping into a spaceships turbine that is designed for intergalactic space travel.

The Predator isn’t a complete disaster, offering brainless fun and a couple of exciting action sequences. However, if you are a fan of the previous films you are guaranteed to be disappointed, with certain plot points mutilating the original concept of the Predator. All logic and basic storytelling are checked at the door, with both wilful and unintentional humour possibly carrying you to the finish. The Predator is by far a good movie, but I did strangely have fun, being glad that I watched it but guaranteeing a will never see it again. I give The Predator a 4/10!

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