The Predator: A Swing And A Miss
Writer/director Shane Black (AKA Hawkins from the original Predator) makes his return to the Predator franchise with a looney, cartoony schlock fest that falls flat and never really fills the cup.
From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home. Now, the universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species. When a young boy accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.
With the all too capable Black behind the wheel, we had marginally high hopes for this film. We knew it probably wouldn’t reach the heights of the original, but we had no idea it would be this botched either…
Black’s writing — particularly his dialogue — has always been fairly sharp and clever; however, with The Predator, this sentiment couldn’t be farther from the truth. The flimsy writing is where a bulk of this bastard sequel’s problems start (and there are a lot of problems with this film).
Everything about the writing in The Predator has a very dated, juvenile feel to it, as if it were written by a very competent high schooler or college student with only a limited understanding of how things work. Scientists say things like “Fuck yeah”, and tourette’s is used as a joke to cap off scenes. Black seems to have no comprehension of how autism, PTSD or tourette’s syndrome really work, so a majority of the film never hits its mark.
Things are exaggerated as they tend to be in action films; however, The Predator never feels grounded due to its cartoony nature. It gets lost in its murky plot points and never finds a way to recover.
Honestly, watching The Predator is like observing a kid who grew up on the Marvel cinematic universe playing with his his dad’s Predator toys; it’s boring, incoherent and full of cookie-cutter characters spewing jokes you’d hear thrown around the playground, like “If you momma was a video game, she’d be rated ‘E’ for everyone.” (And yes, that’s a line straight out of 2018’s The Predator).
The Predator franchise only really works with a simplistic premise, and Black and his co-writer Fred Dekker’s efforts serve as a reminder of that. Their film suffers from trying to do too much, and it lacks the stamina to juggle all the half-baked plot points and franchise tie-ins that Black and company try to shoehorn. Had the film followed just the group of misfit solders, we may’ve gotten a more memorable film, but there’s just so much going on that nothing really sticks.
Somewhere beneath the tired Marvel banter is a quality throw back 80s movie with the soul of a Dark Horse comic, but unfortunately, the whole film was blown apart with a shoulder cannon in the editing room. Things happen too quickly (like Sterling K. Brown’s death — wtf happened there?!), and we revisit characters who had nothing but their bare hands to find that they’re now equipped with guns and gadgetry. The butchered editing makes the unfocused plot even more difficult to follow and culminates in a messy unraveled climax, complete with a loathsome franchise setup.
Of course, the production was less than smooth. There was a controversy over Black’s self-professed “stupid decision” to hire of a registered sex offender pal who was cut from the film, in addition to massive reshoots and third act changes. All of this really shines through in the finished project, and solidifies Predator 2 as the best sequel in the franchise.
Aside from a handful of good kills, The Predator doesn’t have much sustenance to since your extraterrestrial mandible in. It’s a massive leap backwards for Shane Black and could quite well be the nail in the coffin of the Predator franchise. Save yourself the headache and heartache, and just pretend that this film doesn’t exist like Alien v.s. Predator.
Rating: 1.5 dancing predators outta 5.
What did you think? Was The Predator straight trash? Were you expecting much? We want to know! Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well.