Imagine the whole cast and crew all turned up drunk and smoked pots while making a new Predator movie. Then, Shane Black steps up and said:
Hey, everyone. Why don’t we forget the whole thing we used to know about Predator in the past and f***ed everything up?
And there he goes: Instead of sticking to the usual sci-fi action/horror hybrid that most of us have grown accustomed to, co-writer and director Black made a bold move by radically deconstruct the franchise and made it his own. Frankly, I’m okay if a director is daring enough to offer a fresh vision that doesn’t rely heavily or strictly on the tried-and-tested formula as long as the movie doesn’t veer off the course.
Unfortunately, Black has gone too far. He may have reassured us all that The Predator is “a sequel, not a reboot”. But it seems to me that he doesn’t really give a damn about the franchise or even bother taking it seriously. Just about everything about The Predator is a whole lot of jokes, action and violence all thrown into a blender and see if they mix well altogether. The profanity-laden jokes fly hard and fast. Some of them are funny, while others either tend to feel uncomfortably juvenile or fall as flat as a pancake. There are ample displays of action sequences as well and Black doesn’t hold back when comes to excessive gore and graphic violence. Too bad most of them are edited in a frenetic manner. You can imagine how the action turns out during the nighttime sequence, particularly in the woods. Henry Jackman’s score is propulsive, with an occasional hint of Alan Silvestri’s signature Predator theme. It’s just a pity that his score is also annoyingly loud at the same time.
Now, for the story. Remember what I said earlier about Black not giving a damn about the franchise? The screenplay, in which he co-wrote alongside Fred Dekker, is a sloppy mess. It’s like there is a hodgepodge of different ideas thrown all over the place and everything is hastily put together to fit into a feature-length scale of a movie. You can absolutely forget about that little word called “coherence” either. This clearly explains why The Predator became a victim of constant reshuffling dates since 2017 as well as poor test screening and reshoots.
As for the characters, each of them is either disappointingly sketchy or subject to a truckload of comic relief. The male actors — particularly the ragtag team of loony soldiers played by Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera and Thomas Jane — are all reduced to strictly crazy characters who can’t stop throwing quips at each other. And what’s with Olivia Munn’s Dr Bracket character who happens to know how to fire a gun like a pro? Ditto to that. Then, there’s Sterling K. Brown’s Will Traeger, another jokey and immature character who likes to pop breath mints and even give a silly debate in one particular scene with Dr Bracket involving why he chose to name the creature as Predator. Finally, the introduction of Jacob Tremblay’s autistic character as McKenna’s son, who actually plays a pivotal role in the Predator mythology feels strangely out of place.
Fox has been trying to revive the iconic franchise time and time again. Let’s face it, two AVP movies have failed miserably while Nimrod Antal’s Predators only succeed as a half-baked sequel that tries hard to return the franchise to its former glory. Now, with Black ruined The Predator by choosing to make fun of the franchise, I guess it’s time to give it a rest once and for all.