'The Predator' Review
September 20, 2018
The original Predator from 1987 was a film full of mindless action done in a smart way. Every other sequel, spin-off, and reboot following has just been mindless action done really dumb. The Predator, the new quasi-reboot/sequel, is no exception to that trend.
The Predator tries to be a lot of things at once: an ultra-gory action thriller, a witty character comedy, and a relationship drama between family and friends. Instead, it’s none of these things as each piece is weighed down by the other until the whole thing falls apart into one lazy mess.
The Predator comes as the first failure by director Shane Black, who previously did well with Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys. Black’s trademark use of witty banter doesn’t go over well here as it has in his previous films. Most of the jokes are shoehorned in for the sake of having them and are delivered with little effort. They also seem really out of place. Dramatic scenes have jokes in them for no reason and scenes that are supposed to be comedic end up being dry.
Also, the whole tone of the film just feels off. It never settles and constantly keeps seesawing between hard action and silly over-the-top fun, which jarringly contrast each other. When the film is hard action, it’s ordinary gory action that’s been done better by others. Specifically, the whole third act of the film feels like a generic shoot ‘em up. It’s a huge disappointment considering that the film had been building up to this moment throughout the first two acts.
Along with Fred Dekker, Shane Black also serves as a writer. Similar to his directing, Black’s writing is lackluster and a letdown when compared to his previous work. The overall plot comes off as lazy. There really isn’t a big picture for the film and how it connects to the rest of the franchise. We do get some connectors and facts, but mainly they’re just cast aside in favor of more action set pieces.
Another misstep is the introduction of the main character’s son, Rory, who acts as a link between the aliens and humans. Just like every other kid in an action movie, Rory’s only purpose is to artificially raise the stakes and force us to care for him just because he’s a kid.
The biggest gripe against the writers is how they take the Suicide Squad approach towards the characters. We go around introducing each character and learn one trait about them. Then the characters only act on that one trait the whole movie, which quickly gets tiresome. Half of them don’t even serve a point until they die at the end in a desperate attempt to make us care for them.
Stemming from the bad writing is some equally bad acting from the main cast. Boyd Holbrook plays our lead character, Quinn McKenna, an elite stealth sniper. Holbrook is very boring in the role and plays the same “conflicted army character with a heart of gold” that we’ve seen over and over. Just like Holbrook, Olivia Munn plays her character, Dr. Casey Bracket, like every other action movie scientist. She gives some science mumbo jumbo every few minutes and doesn’t do much else.
Sterling K. Brown lacks his usual confidence here. He always looks unsure of himself as he doesn't know how to play his character. He wants to be a multi-layered villain but ends up being a cartoon. One slight nod can be given to Keegan-Michael Key. His manic energy allows for some of the jokes to not totally fail.
Everybody’s heard the saying, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.” Most films embody this statement, shooting too high and coming out average. The Predator, on the other hand, does the exact opposite of this statement. It seems like the filmmakers didn't care enough to shoot for the moon. They shot for average at best and missed badly, leaving us with a film that feels like an empty shell of what it could have been.