Although I was not a huge fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1980s, I did love Jesse “The Body” Ventura, from the WWE, so I loved the classic 80s action movie, Predator. Because of that, I was excited when I heard that they were doing a new Predator movie directed by Shane Black, called The Predator. I liked most of Black’s work and I thought this would be a nice blend of action and character work.
This was awful.
A regular predator arrives on earth with an unknown mission and he comes into conflict with the group led by American sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook). It took out that team, but it was captured. leaving McKenna alone and looking to be crazy. As evidence, McKenna took some equipment from the predator and mailed it to his own post office box, which mistakenly ends up in the hands of his estranged son, Rory (Jacob Tremblay), who is on the Autism spectrum (and apparently genius level). Rory is able to trigger the gauntlet that had been sent and accidentally tips off the super Predator that had been in pursuit of the smaller predator.
Meanwhile, McKenna wound up on a bus heading to an asylum but he was conveniently on the same bus as a group of crazy soldiers called The Loonies. When the storylines converged, they teamed up to try and prevent the predators from doing whatever they were going to do.
The film is needlessly convoluted and confusing in many points. There are bunches of storylines going on at any one point in the movie and the film touches upon them and drops them willy-nilly throughout. There are many times that the narrative structure felt more like a mishmash of scenes instead of a well thought out plot.
Not that Schwarzenegger’s Predator was a deeply involved story. It was the story of a hunter creature stalking and killing a group of well armed men. It was a slasher horror flick masked as an action movie. Either this new film did not know what it wanted to be, or, worse yet, knew what it wanted to be and did not understand the basic component of what makes a successful Predator movie.
There were too many jokes. Scenes were dismissive and played for comedy. Very few of the jokes worked, even with the remarkably funny Keegan-Michael Key as one of the Loonies. Key’s character just did not work for me, and any enjoyable scenes with that character was strictly from the talent of Mr. Key. And above all else, despite there being many quips and one-lines, there were none like “I ain’t got time to bleed.”
The action was fine, but unremarkable. There were actually several scenes where it looked like an old eighties film, and not in the good way. The CGI and effects were hit and miss, which is inexcusable at this time in movie history for a big budget movie.
The cast was adequate, but nobody truly stood out. Olivia Munn was fine in her role, but casting her as a scientist was a bit of a stretch for sure. Sterling K. Brown’s Traeger was a dull villain whose motivation was confused at best. I hated Thomas Jane’s character of Baxley, whose character trait apparently was that he had Tourettes syndrome.
The film had a lot of noise and a lot of gunfire with little purpose behind either. And there felt as if there were no stakes at all because nobody had any fear or concern or emotional ties to anything that happened. When Jacob Tremblay takes the Predator helmet that hi dad mistakenly mailed him and used it for a Halloween costume, the mask activates on its own and kills somebody. That does not seem to bother Tremblay’s character in the least. No one has any normal human reactions to what is happening around them and so why should I care if any of them are in danger?
The Predator is a mess of a movie and I really disliked my time watching it in an IMAX theater. It did not look good, had average, at best, performances and tried to juggle too many plots where one or two would have sufficed. The Predator was not a good film.