Does the world need another Predator movie? This fourth direct film in the franchise follows a classic action movie (Predator, 1987), a terrible sequel (Predator 2, 1990) and a serviceable third instalment (Predators, 2010), and don’t even get us started on Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), the disposable cash cow crossovers which attempted to hype us geeks up.
But geeks will be geeks. Even with the sub-par teaser trailer and disappointing plot summary, we were still anticipating what Shane Black (Iron Man 3) could bring to the franchise.
Co-written by Black and Fred Dekker, the film sees army sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook, who is lacking a certain something to be taking on a leading role) cross paths with a Predator during one of his military missions. His team gets wiped out and thanks to sneaky government machinations, he is sent away with a group of disgraced army whack jobs so the world won’t know about the intimidating alien creature.
Throw in a righteous biologist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn), irritating government man Will Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), and a boy with special talents named Rory McKenna (Jacob Tremblay, who gets to spout f-bombs in this M18 movie), and you get a 107-minute action flick aimed at pleasing die-hard fans and winning over new ones.
Remember the tagline from AVP? Whoever wins, we lose? It’s the same case here.
First, the good news: who would have thought a Predator movie could be this funny? Rather than focus on horror, the movie blends comedy with action and the motley crew that the protagonist is stuck with is a hoot to watch. There are truly chuckle-worthy lines (“’Getting the f*ck out here is my middle name!”), and there is a nice onscreen brotherhood among these men.
There is the guy who is clearly nuts, the guy who makes vulgar jokes, the guy who believes in God and the suave one who is too cool to be bothered with anything else. And yes, there is nice racial representation in this crew too. Played by Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight), Keegan-Michael Key (TV’s Key & Peele), Alfie Allen (TV’s Game of Thrones), Thomas Jane (The Punisher) and Augusto Aguilera (TV’s Chasing Life), these dudes are the guys you’d want to hang around with while chasing aliens with lasers.
The Predator also gets to be funny. In one scene, the creature chops off a man’s hand at the back of a vehicle and uses it (complete with a thumbs up sign) to lead the driver into thinking everything’s alright in the back seat. How’s that for offbeat humour?
Fans who are watching this for the blood, guts and gore wouldn’t be disappointed. Human beings get sliced up with their insides in glorious view, blood gets sprayed across the screen and the corpses are piled up while machine guns go on a rampage.
The bad news? The Predator is packed with lackluster effects, plot holes that a child can shove a combistick into, and not a lot of smart Yautjas. There are also two Predator Dogs that… well, the less said about them, the better.
It is not surprising that a movie like that wouldn’t win the hearts of critics. Black, who directed the underrated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) and The Nice Guys (2016), really doesn’t have much to play with to make this a classic. Just like the mistake that was Iron Man 3 (2013), the messy and contrived storyline doesn’t help the brainless and loud action sequences. And who cares about Predators genetically upgrading themselves with DNA from other species? Or that somewhere in this movie, there is a Predator Killer (don’t ask).
The truth is, Shane Black is the real Predator Killer.
We knew we weren’t going to get anyone like Arnold Schwarzenegger to deliver meme-worthy lines like “Get to the choppa!”, “You’re one ugly motherf*cker!” and “Kill me! Do it nowwww!”, but for what it’s worth, this latest entry in the franchise is fun enough for geeks to enjoy some good laughs and gore in the cinema.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
The Predator is still one ugly motherf*cker, and that’s all that matters in this brainlessly funny, gory action flick.
Story - 6/10
Direction - 6.5/10
Characterisation - 6/10
Geek Satisfaction - 7.5/10