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The Predator (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 4, 2020

The Predator


Starring Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Sterling K. Brown, Augusto Aguilera, Jake Busey, Yvonne Strahovski, Brian Prince, Mike Dopud, Niall Matter, Javier Lacroix, Gabe LaBelle, Nikolas Dukic, RJ Fetherstonhaugh, James Salisbury, Garry Chalk and Lochlyn Munro.

Screenplay by Fred Dekker & Shane Black.

Directed by Shane Black.

Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox. 108 minutes. Rated R.

In 1987, the movie Predator was made as a cheap rip-off of the Alien series, which was then popular. (The hit sequel Aliens had come out the year before.) In Predator the violent space aliens had dreadlocks, the ability to disappear and were attacking the Earth – but otherwise they hunted and mercilessly killed humans in a very similar manner.

Predator became a surprisingly big hit, appearing right in the middle of action star Arnold Schwarzennegger’s hot streak of smash hits. And thanks to the popularity of the first film, just like the Alien series, the dreadlocked death machines have popped up periodically for over 30 years now. They even did two movies in which the predators did battle with the aliens they were originally ripping off.

The first sequel was Predator 2 in 1990. Then the monsters took a long nap before returning with a vengeance in the new millennium. The first Alien vs. Predator film appeared in 2004. A sequel Alien vs. Predator: Requiem came in 2007. They jettisoned the aliens in the next film Predators, in which Robert Rodriguez finally made a sequel that he had originally pitched in 1994.

Now the series passes over to Shane Black, who once upon a time was an action name to watch after helming Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3. Also, as an actor, Black was one of the first fatalities in the first Predator film.

And just for the record, The Predator sets up at least one sequel at the end of the film, so the series isn’t ending yet.

It really should, though.

Okay, I will come clean: the only films in this series that I have ever seen are the original film, the two Alien vs. Predator films, and now The Predator. And, honestly, I didn’t like any of them, even the original – which was, granted, better than any of the ones I’ve seen that came in its wake. The Predator is not as bad as the Alien vs. Predator movies. But it’s still pretty awful.

Which is kind of a shame because the film brought in some quirky and interesting character actors – like Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Jacob Tremblay, Yvonne Strahovski and Sterling Brown – and gave them little to no reason to be there.

The new story – if you can really call it new – basically takes the standard Predator template and splices in little bits of Stranger Things and American Sniper for spice.

McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is an elite American sniper who is with his unit in Mexico to take out some nasty members of drug cartels. In the middle of the operation, a spaceship crash lands nearby and slaughters the two other members of the unit. McKenna is able to knock the creature out, though, and steals his mask and one of his deadly arm cuffs.

McKenna does not trust the government to share the alien technology with – because, uhh… reasons. Reasons that are never totally explained. It’s just a given that the government is bad – even though he is a member of the government, sort of – and of course the rest of the film is desperate to prove that point with everything that officials do from there on. So, instead, he mails the tech to himself at home, where it ends up in the hands of his estranged wife and his bullied young son. Yeah, that’s smart.

In the meantime, McKenna is sent to a group of psychologically-challenged soldiers – they call themselves The Loonies – in order to discredit him. However, before they can make it to the sanitarium, they run across two battling predators and the loonies may be the world’s last hope.

Lord help us all.

Black tries to make the movie a little lighter between the spurts of blood. There is a nice self-depricating running gag that because these creatures hunt for sport rather than survival, they should be called “Hunters” not “Predators.” But that’s about as funny as this gets.

In the meantime, even for movies like this, very little of the story makes sense. For example, at one point the predator takes off in his ship with McKenna on top of the ship. The ship flies for miles as they fight until McKenna is finally able to cause a crash landing. And, somehow, the crash happens right where his surviving compatriots have been waiting to help in the fight, essentially making a big circle and landing right where it took off. Say what???

And did I mention that the film ends setting up an inevitable sequel? I did, huh?

As I just said, lord help us all.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2018 All rights reserved. Posted: December 17

, 2018.

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