The Predator

The Predator is the fourth instalment of the predator franchise, or the 6th, depending if you count the AVP outings as well. It is directed by Shane Black, who also has one of the writing credits and who also appeared as a character in the original Predator movie. The expectations were quite high since, despite being a beloved franchise, the general consensus is that each instalment was worse than the one before, and with a talent like Black in the directors’ seat, fans hoped for a spiritual reboot of the franchise, or a revival, if you will. Personally, I enjoyed pretty much everything that the predator had to offer along the years, except for AVP2, which is a total waste, but then again, this is not one of my favorite franchises, so I am not that invested if things go wrong. This was very helpful in this case, as my expectation towards this movie were kept low. All I wanted from it was to have a good time, which I did. That being said, I understand why most of the people are not on the same page with me on that. This movie is a mess. Oh, and by the way… spoilers ahead…

In terms of story, the focus is on 4 characters, each are established pretty early on in the picture. You have Traeger, a government agent that is in charge of all things predator related, played by Sterling k. Brown. You have Dr. Braket, played by Olivia Munn, who is a scientist. McKenna, an elite sniper, played by Boyd Holbrook, and finally, his son, a kid that is seriously on the autism spectrum, played by Jacob Tremblay. In a nutshell, McKenna is on a mission in Mexico when a predator with a busted ship drops out of the sky and kills everybody except him. McKenna manages to steal some of the predators gear, which he mails to himself because he will need proof that this had happened, just before he gets captured by the government and eventually ends up on a bus filled with former armed forces personnel that are not quite right in the head. In the mean time, Traeger captures the predator and brings Braket onboard his operation because the predator has some human DNA inside him and Traeger doesn’t have enough scientist on the payroll to figure this out. Also in the mean time, the package that McKenna has mailed to himself is being rerouted to his house, because he did not payed his PO box charges, and end up in the hands of his kid, which starts to tinker with the predator gear. The kid is on the autism spectrum, but on the savant side, so he actually learns about the predators while using the gear, but not before he unknowingly trips off an alarm and gives out his position to an even bigger predator, who has the mission to hunt down and kill the first one, which, in the mean time escapes the government facility where it was held captive, but in a way that allows McKenna to be on his trails once again, together with Braket, who was ordered to be killed by Traeger. Sounds convoluted? It is. And this is just basically the first 30 minutes.

Like I said, this movie is a mess. There are plot holes, characters make decisions that do not make sense, story elements feel like being shoehorned in at the last minute. Honestly, it feels like they were shooting 3 different predator movies at the same time but none worked, so then they frankensteined one from the parts of the other 3, just because they were on a deadline. I would be really interested to find out if there were any behind the scene drama between the film makers and the studio, if the executives forced some elements upon Black to include in the movie. As far as I know, there were no reports about this, but it certainly would explain this end result. So, the predator that crash lands and is captured, is the same one that works with Adrien Brody in Predators, the 2010 outing of the franchise. This is nice, as continuity is being established, since not just this character is in common between the two movies but also the concept that there are bigger, badder predators out there, that hunt down the regular versions. Now, in our case, it has been explained to us that this particular predator is here to help us fight the big bad ones. Supposedly they want to take over the planet from us (by the means of global warming, non-less). The thing is, that, for a creature that supposed to be an ally, and has an important mission, it behaves very hunter like when he crashes. The thing takes out 2 snipers right away, which is in line with the character of the predator according to the first two movies, but it is not in line with the narrative of the current one. And I could go on and on with examples like this. There are plenty of things that just doesn’t work in this movie. So, what does?

Well, most of the jokes and the one liners. They are all over this movie, which is not a surprise, given that Shane Black did co-wrote the script. Also, some of the one liners are in clear reference to the original movie, like “you are one beautiful motherfucker” which is with a twist, or “get to the chopper!”, which in this case meant police motorcycles. So yes, the movie is funny. Also, the actors deliver. By far, the stand out here is Olivia Munn. She is a bad ass. The things she does don’t make sense story wise, but the way she does them is great. Also, she discovers a full proof way to survive a close encounter with a predator. Just be naked! But don’t expect to see anything besides her shoulders, you perverts… Sterling K. Brown is chewing up the scenery whenever he is on screen, he delivers an enjoyable villain figure. He is like a black ops Alonzo Harris from Training Day. Special hats off to Keegan-Michael Key and Thomas Jane. They are playing two of the not quite right in the head ex-army guys that McKenna teams up with. Interestingly enough, out of all the characters from this movie, only they get to have a backstory, a couple of supporting figures. Not the leads, just 2 of the supports. But it does create quite a unique dynamic between them. And honestly, I did not recognize Thomas Jane in the role. He was just transformed. It was also nice to see Key outside of his wheelhouse. And the way the 2 die in this movie? Priceless. Actually, that particular scene made me think that maybe, this entire movie is just a spoof of the franchise. That this was Blacks plan all along and he got away with it.

So yeah, there are things here that work. Just not enough. Besides the dysfunctional story, the CGI is bad. Oh yeah, I almost forgot… The supposed allied predators mission was to deliver us a weapon, which is an armored suit. It looks like something out of a Power Rangers TV series. And naturally, the key player in the entire movie turns out to be the kid, which in the end lands a job at the top-secret government program. If it weren’t for all the gore and swearing, you would think that this movie was made for children between the ages of 8 to 12. I mean, we even have a couple of scenes where the solution is provided by a dog. A predator dog, no less. All things considered, this is a pretty original movie, if you look only at the predator franchise. Not that this is a good thing. For me, The Predator is a rather forgettable movie. I am not sure that the fans of the predator franchise, or the fans of Shane Black in general would agree…

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