Director: Shane Black
Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Olivia Munn, Keegan-Michael Key, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Jake Busey, and Jacob Tremblay
Make a list of the action film staples of the 1980’s and it won’t take long to arrive at director John McTiernan’s science fiction adventure movie “Predator” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s a highlight in the explosive catalog of Schwarzenegger who is partly responsible for influencing the prototype for the modern action film that audiences are familiar with.
Shane Black, the writer behind the “Lethal Weapon” franchise and most recently “The Nice Guys”, returns to the franchise he had an early acting role in back in 1987. However, this time Mr. Black is the director of “The Predator”, an entertaining, overstuffed, and brainless film determined to achieve the highest amount of fan service possible.
A military operation involving a drug cartel in Mexico is disrupted by a crashing unidentified flying object. The cartel members and military soldiers are slaughtered brutally by a cloaking alien hunter. A sniper named Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is the only survivor of the attack. Before a group of scientists from a program called Stargazer can assess the scene, McKenna takes the mask and a weapon off the Predator and sends it away for evidence of the encounter. McKenna is eventually arrested and interrogated; he is placed in custody with a ragtag group of military soldiers who are forced into action when the Predator escapes.
Shane Black is a talented writer who imbues his scripts with humor, quirk, and interesting characters. “The Predator” thrives on these qualities throughout the film. It emulates the catchy team aspect from the original film with a group of military tough guys but here adding some genuinely funny moments from the cast and a female character played by Olivia Munn who can hold her own just fine amidst all the testosterone. In the first major action scene in the film Mr. Black pitch perfectly catches the tone of the original films.
Replacing Arnold Schwarzenegger is actor Boyd Holbrook who, minus the muscles and accent, does a decent job of playing the hero here. Olivia Munn is provided a thankless role, though it does offer a few moments for her to flex her toughness. The standout performances belong to Keegan-Michael Key and Trevante Rhodes who banter and bicker with a mile-a-minute tempo that simply provokes some of the best laughs of the film.
There are some really fun moments and setups throughout, like when the film blatantly salutes the first two films with a series of clever one-liners and when the Predator is simply left to unleash chaotic attacks. Unfortunately, “The Predator” feels lopsided as it tries t0 balance too many things. The mix of humor and action works in some aspects and in other places it feels out of place. The narrative introduces a few interesting choices connected to the mythology of the otherworldly sport hunters but it also feels stuffed with ideas that never payoff the way they should. You can feel the film working every angle for a sequel.
Amidst all that is going on with Predator dogs, a character with Tourette’s Syndrome (Thomas Jane), biological modification, a genius young boy (Jacob Tremblay), and Sterling K. Brown playing a scientist with more swagger and coolness than he should have, “The Predator” is definitely a messy premise but thrives to provide entertainment and action first and foremost.
3.00 out of 5.00