On a muggy Long Island afternoon, I finally made the trip out to see The Predator. Being amongst one of the last of my friends and fandom cohorts to see it my expectations were all over the place. Is this the worst movie in the history of movies? Has another beloved childhood franchise been ruined beyond repair? Is it a worthy addition to the Predator franchise? For me at least, the answer is a mix of everything. Time to take a look at what worked and what did not.
The Fugitive Predator was badass. It looked fantastic and moved with a purpose not seen in any other Predators. It had its own unique movements that added a wonderful unique flair to the character as well. I was a huge fan of this addition, and wish it had more screen time. The beginning of the movie was excellent, it felt almost like a Dark Horse Comic and was almost worth the price of admission itself. Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is a solid lead character, and I found myself rooting for him and his family. I’ve been around lots of military families and thought they captured how tight and badass most of them are. Jacob Trembly was fine as Rory, was nice to see a kid character not written as an annoying little brat. Rory’s Autism takes center stage at times, and I found that be refreshing in a movie about alien creatures who love to rip spines out. Sterling K. Brown as Traeger (He’ll always be Gordon Walker to me!) was entertaining as all get out. While his character was shallow, he brought a fun swagger and style to the role. Shame his death was a bit uneventful. Olivia Munn (Casey Brackett) was not as bad as I initially feared, she was the brains of the entire crew and brought some levity to the insanity. She has the look, and the potential to be a decent action heroine if she keeps at it.
The Loonies. They will probably appear in all facets of this article. For many, this was the make or break for the movie. A bunch of discarded veterans headed for the loony bin find themselves in the midst of the chaos. While their characters were hit or miss I loved the idea a group of old soldiers bonding together one last time. Trevante Rhodes as Nebraska Williams was the standout Loonie, highlighted by his growing friendship with McKenna. The last half of the movie, I found Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key) and Baxley (Thomas Jane) as interesting members.
I also am a fan of the expansion of the Predator mythology introduced. They are not just game hunters. There are various other factions of Predators out there with their own agenda and desires. I think this opens up for more varied storytelling in future movies or comics.
The film’s rapid-fire jokes were all over the place, they ranged from quotable to making you want to get up and leave the movie altogether. “Fuck me with an aardvark” however is my new go-to quote for the rest of 2018. I nearly pissed myself from laughing. The ongoing gag about calling them “Predators” was great too.
That last 1/3 of the movie was a disaster. Is this the new Fox trend? The last 1/3 of Covenant was a mess too. They apparently did not learn anything. The editing was poor, and it seemed like key scenes were missing. And that ending? What the hell was that Shane Black? Did you take an unused idea from Iron Man 3? Terrible! It took away from any good that was set up prior. From what I’ve been told, some of this was due to test audience reactions to original cut leading to last minute changes.
The forced references and nods to previous movies. The AvP spear was a fun Easter egg, but the rest? Yikes. Just let the movie succeed on its own, it only takes away for the product by awkwardly referencing older movies. “You’re one beautiful mother f–“. Groan. Though I chuckled at “Get to the choppers”. To pile onto that Jake Busey had a brief appearance that functioned as nothing more than to remind you his dad was in Predator 2. What a waste.
The Loonies. They were the source of most of the jokes and gags. I know Shane Black was going for those 80s vibes, and was probably trying to channel his character of Hawkins. But Shane, you need to let the jokes breathe. Timing is everything. Coyle’s overbearing jokes and Baxley’s Tourette’s was enough to turn most people off. It’s perfectly fine write in lewd and politically incorrect jokes, but when they come out as forced? It makes the audience squirm. Lynch (Alfie Allen) was not used enough, he’s a great supporting actor and deserved more time. They were all business once the shit hit the fan, but it could’ve had more of an impact if the one-liners were toned down a bit earlier.
The Coyle and Baxley death? Awful. Completely took away from their heroic acts in the fight at the end.
And those Predator Dogs. What was that?! Why not use the badass pooches from Predators? I do not get it. And Brackett suddenly befriended one and was playing fetch with a grenade? Huh? That’s actually kind of cool sounding when I type it actually. Speaking of Brackett, how did she shift from expert biologist to seasoned soldier? She was jumping on buses, running with the Predator. I was waiting for her to reveal she was part of another organization with special training. Who knows? Maybe Munn was actually Psylocke and this was an X-Men crossover.
The Super Predator. Despite looking cool with nifty skin armor I felt this was a miss. What makes the Predator fun is the cat and mouse game is plays with its prey. Once the big guy is introduced it turns into a generic action flick. No need for camouflage, just complete and utter mayhem. An 11-foot Predator is just another generic monster.
The Global warming stuff? Really?
It’s no surprise that The Predator has caused such intense feelings one way or the way or the amongst those who’ve seen it. Shane Black leaning heavily on the cheesy, over the top vibe of the 80s while trying to balance it with a serious science fiction. Much like the aforementioned Alien Covenant, this movie had no idea what it wanted to be. Neither did Fox. I’m curious as to what was left out in the final cut, a read through of the official movie novelization might be in order.
A fun movie marred by married inconsistencies and a terrible ending.
6 dislodged spines out of 10.