HOLLYWOOD—I was really intrigued to see this new chapter in the “Predator” franchise. It looked like a film that would change the expectation that the audience has come to expect with the franchise, but oh, was I ever disappointed. Tact on the fact that I recently watched the 1987 classic on Cable TV, the punch to the gut was even worse. The biggest problem with “The Predator” is that the movie does not seem to have an idea in regards to where it wants the narrative to go.
Perhaps the biggest gripe I had with this movie was it seemed eerily similar to the previous film “Predators,” with some minor adjustments here and there with the narrative. One thing that the movie does exceptionally well is flesh out its core characters. I felt as a spectator that each and everyone one of these individuals had a role in the movie and didn’t just appear as a body count. At the core, the story revolves around Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), a former Army Ranger and sharpshooter who stumbles upon the alien force on a mission while in Mexico.
Quinn’s decision to steal some gear from the alien, ultimately sets the stage for the rest of the story to progress. Here’s the problem, we find the bulk of the action tied to Quinn’s estranged son Rory (Jacob Tremblay). Rory has an exceptional skillset, which could be the result of his autism. Rory inadvertently activates a device that sends a ‘Predator’ to Earth to locate another Predator who is believed to have sold out his species. There are a bevy of characters in the action-thriller, including Olivia Munn as the sole female staple and she is given plenty to do. A bit brainy, brawny and at the same time not afraid to say what is on her mind. She was fun to watch on the big screen alongside all of her male counterparts.
Those male counterparts all include mercenaries with a specific set of skills. Included in that mix include actors Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, Alfie Allen and Augusto Aguilera; all characters who deliver the comedy for the flick. “The Predator” actually delivers many laughs that the audience might not expect, especially when we are first introduced to these individuals who do battle with this accelerated life force. The violence in this installment might be the most brutal of the entire franchise if you ask me; the blood is visceral, in your face and doesn’t take any prisoners. I will admit the addition of “This is Us” alum Sterling K. Brown was a misfire in my opinion. His role as a scientist/government official, who happens to be the villain was not believable in any fashion. I’m thinking the script was very weak in terms of developing this character and the dialogue at times was terrible, and this is no dig at Brown, but the script which was co-written by director Shane Black.
Black’s script seems to tease the audience with potential narrative troupes that never come to fruition. Without spoiling anything, something of major significance is teased to the audience, but it never goes anywhere. To be honest if that tidbit had come to fruition it may have turned this mediocre film into something exceptional. The climax is frustrating because as soon as it transpires, it seems like a bloodbath that culminates in 10-15 minutes where we lose nearly 90 percent of our core cast.
“The Predator” is a flick that brings nothing new to the franchise. You’re better off watching the previous flick “Predators,” which attempted to take the movie in a new direction. Instead this flick teases the audience, but it never goes anywhere that leaves you excited.