The Predator franchise is a classic, a staple of the action/sci-fi genre. Arnold, our sweet boy Arnold, altered the course of the world on June the 12th, 1987 when the first film was released. Audiences have screamed and frothed for more, with two sequels (we don’t talk about AvP) spanning the course of the next thirty years. And the best part…I’ve seen none of them. Not one. SO LET’S REVIEW A PREDATOR MOVIE.
The Predator (2018); Directed by Shane Black
(Okay, I lied. I did see Predators whenever it came out, but I remember essentially nothing about the film, other than that I was really excited that Topher Grace was in it. For some reason. Anyways, I don’t count it (Alien versus Predator and AvP: Requiem don’t count either since they’re barely even movies).)
So, was the most recent addition to the franchise any good? Was it bad? Well, it’s a bit of both. Director Shane Black is one of my favorites, so I was kind of excited for that, if not any of the actual Predator stuff. I went in optimistic. The Predator is a weird movie. Even not being known for their fantastic story-weaving abilities, this Predator movie is (more or less) a bunch of action sequences strung together with some dialogue here and there. Following a bizarre group of actual loonies (plus Olivia Munn and a kid), they have to hunt down the Predator before it hunts them. It’s kind of like Suicide Squad, but with Predators and likable characters. For how much action there is, none of it really is all that fantastic. The humor is off-kilter and sometimes jarring. Despite that the characters are mostly likable (except when they’re really not), you never really feel anything for them or their plight. Serviceably directed, serviceably produced, The Predator is nowhere near the best movie of 2018, but it’s not quite the worst either.
I give it a baffled shrug number of thumbs up. If you want a dumb comedy-action flick that whittles away two hours of your time in a relatively inoffensive, mildly entertaining way, The Predator is just for you. They should put that as a pull quote on the DVD.
Ye Be Warned; Spoilers From Here on Out
Let’s get into this, I’ve got some things to say.
Okay, first and foremost, there is nothing (that I can think of off the top of my head), absolutely nothing that I hate more than the way Tourette’s is played for jokes in movies. You know, where they can’t control what they say, so the character curses or something when they didn’t mean to, and it creates a dumb, incredibly unfunny joke that was played out before the first time you ever saw it? Yeah, it’s in this movie and done so terribly that I visibly cringed at least twice. Thankfully, the character really mellows out and, uh, I guess doesn’t have Tourette’s by the end? Because he stops doing the exaggerated twitching and cursing? I don’t know, it doesn’t make any sense. Oh, and actor-who-is-actually-good-in-things Thomas Jane plays this character.
Now on to the actual movie. I like Shane Black, I really do. Everything he’s made previous to this has been fantastic (yes, including Iron Man Three). In his defense, I think the Shane-Blackisms are some of the best parts of the movie. Despite that the military crew assembled by Southern-Guy-From-Logan (played by Boyd Holbrook) are distinctly unlikeable based on their personality traits and actions, Black actually manages to breathe life and likability into these guys. By the end, I still didn’t care whether or not they succeeded, but I actually was a little upset when they died. Particularly Smokes-A-Lot-Maybe-Named-Nebraska? (IMDB confirms, the character is named Nebraska, played by Trevante Rhodes). Medals (the one character’s name I actually know, for some reason, played by Augusto Aguilera), Keagan-Michael Key, and Alfie Allen all start out awful and unlikable but quickly become weirdly endearing and quippy as the movie goes on. Olivia Munn is fine, has some good banter, but feels a little wasted in this role. All of the characters just get less obnoxious and more charming as the film progresses. The best character of all the movie is the evil-government-man villain, portrayed by Sterling K. Brown. I’ve never seen him in anything before, but he is so good in this I want to see everything he’s ever been in. Finally, a villain that isn’t some cartoonishly evil maniac, he just feels like a man at the end of his rope, trying to do his job, that gets to be a little villainous every now and again. He’s great and I would almost recommend seeing the movie for him alone.
Generally, The Predator is roughly around 50% awful, dumb action schlock and 50% cheeky, clever, fun action schlock. I honestly laughed quite a bit more than I thought I would going into a Predator movie. Whoever edited this didn’t do a phenomenal job; all the action scenes do that QUICKCUT-QUICKCUT-QUICKCUT thing that everyone hates, but at the same time, I was never confused in any of the action scenes, it’s still serviceable. So, I can’t really hold that against the movie?
Much of this movie feels like something right out of the eighties, in all the best and worst ways. The characters, general plot structure, tone, and gruesome kills feel right out of the eighties, which is kind of great. Specifically, the kills. They’re bloody, they’re visceral, and they’re great. The kind that you give that half-shocked, half amused gasp-laugh to. On the other side of the coin, some of the humor and the way characters with disabilities are portrayed is also out of the eighties, which is really, really not so great.
Okay, okay, we’ve got to talk about the ending. So, there’s that ten-minute sequence where they tease the pod the small-friendly-Predator was protecting, right? The whole time, I sat there, whispering, “Please be Adrien Brody from Predators in there, pleeease be Adrien Brody.” Alas. There was no Adrien Brody. Only a weird Robo-Predator.
In the end, was The Predator any good? I mean…no, not really. There aren’t any character arcs to speak of, the plot jumps from action sequence to action sequence, there are no touching moments or really exciting thrills.
Did I enjoy the hell out of it? Kind of, yeah, though I’m a little ashamed to admit it, I mostly had a pretty good time. It wasn’t the worst way to spend two hours or spend eleven-twelve dollars, whatever tickets cost these days.
Wasn’t very good, but I kind of enjoyed it anyway, 5/10.