The Predator review
Given how many sequels/prequels we've received for the Alienseries, it surprises me that we hadn't received as many movies from another creature from space movie, Predator. It's been a while since I'd seen the original 1987 movie, but it was a fun survival story staring Arnold Schwarzenegger that had a very cool, well-designed killing machine. It was also unique to see an alien that came to Earth not to conquer or even destroy all the humans, but was there just for sport. Name another movie in which aliens are hunting just for their own enjoyment.
Unlike the Alien series, which has continued to rank in large box office grossings, Predator has had a rougher path. Predator 2, Predators, and even the crossover Alien Vs. Predatorhave all failed to generate much critical phrase, cult following, or even profits. Maybe the idea of the creature only had enough steam for one movie. Perhaps people wanted something similar to the first movie. But regardless, you'd think that with the extra push from nostalgia that Hollywood studios have done would have brought the Predatorback sooner. This time, not only do we have a new sequel, but Shane Black writing and directing (who was also in the original Predator). Lets see if The Predatorcan crack the code for a good sequel.
Army Ranger Quinn McKenna (played by Boyd Holbrook) witnesses a predator ship crash landing. Though he manages to injure and take part of it's armor, both are captured by government agent Will Traeger (played by Sterling K. Brown for study. Quinn is sent to a VA psychiatric hospital to be hidden away while government scientists try to study a subdued Predator. Unfortunately, the alien wakes up and fights his way out, with only Will and biologist Dr. Casey Bracket (played by Olivia Munn).
Meanwhile, Quinn's autistic son Rory (played by Jacob Tremblay) struggles to fit in and fears he'll be bullied for life. On the same day as Halloween, he receives a package from his dad, which contains a predator helmet (for safekeeping).
While being transported on a bus with a group of loony soldiers, Quinn and the guys escape when the same predator attacks. They all manage to get to the small town where Quinn's family is unaware that Rory went trick or treating with the predator helmet. The race is on to take down this predator and a possible bigger one that may explain the need for the alien's human hunting.
Shane Black happens to be one of my favorite writer/directors today, as he not only knows how to write funny dialogue, but also knows how to make great kid characters. The bad news is that The Predatorfails at generating a cohesive story nor evolve the predator aliens. As you can see from the description, the story goes all over the map. What makes even the worst Predatormovies still work is that it's a simple story of people against a predator. Here, we have government conspiracies, conspiracies among the aliens, the kid possibly being powerful and still trying to make it an entertaining action movie.
Speaking of which, the characters are entertaining. Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown all play people that each have their arcs, funny moments and even badass moments. I also give a lot of points for the group of soldiers that Boyd teams up with that also have Keegan-Michael Key and Thomas Jane. They all get a lot of great lines and have dialogue that seems like something of group of immature men would have without coming off too obnoxious.
Once these characters are thrown against the predator, the movie does become a lot of fun to watch. The action is shot well and the predator is an impressive mix of practical and CGI. It's only when they try to make it all a part of something bigger. So why does that work in Alien and not here? I think it has to do with the fact that while we came to the alien and discovered it, the predator came to us and seems more in it for their personal enjoyment. Perhaps someone does know what to do, but I have a hard time making this a major franchise.
I'll give this three predator helmets out of five. The movie may be insane and all over the place, I certainly had fun watching it and might even watch it again if given the chance. It only get points off for having story elements that are either too complicated or don't work at all. I can't imagine someone hating this, but it won't have the same cult status as the original. At least that has a Schwarzenegger yelling, "Get to the Choppa!"