Friday, September 14, 2018 marks the official US theatrical release of The Predator, the sixth film in the extended Predator franchise (which includes two Alien vs Predator films) written and directed by Shane Black (of the first two Lethal Weapon films, The Monster Squad, and of course the role of Rick Hawkins in the original 1987 Predator film). Nerd Nation Magazine was in attendance for the early press screening courtesy of 20th Century Fox, Allied Marketing, and Regal Cinemas.
If you’ve ever seen the episode of Family Guy wherein Peter Griffin suggests an idea he has for a new movie called “Big Jaws,” which is basically just Jaws, but this time there’s an even bigger Jaws to take on regular Jaws, then you’ve basically already seen the general plot of The Predator. I honestly wish I was just cracking a bad joke here for a cheap laugh, but unfortunately that’s pretty much what’s going on in this one.
Here’s your basic premise… one of the aliens known as the Predators crash lands on Earth, uses advanced alien technology and super-human abilities to wreak all sorts of havoc on a platoon of US Army soldiers during an op in Central America, there’s some super-secret government people that have known about them for years and are trying to cover it up at all costs while pulling some Area-51 style top-secret research on them alongside their recently brought in biologist Dr. Casey Bracket (played by X-Men: Apocalypse and Attack of the Show’s Olivia Munn), who they continually remind the audience is “an expert in her field,” yet hilariously doesn’t seem to actually understand a lot of very basic scientific concepts (a clearly unintentional goof in the screenwriting). Upon meeting head researcher Sean Keys (played by Starship Troopers’ Jake Busey) the son of Peter Keys from the original Predator (which, for the record was played by the actor’s real-life father Gary Busey, which I can almost guarantee was intentional) the captive alien quickly awakens and escapes, killing pretty much everyone, and going about his merry way.
The only survivor of the first Predator attack, Army Ranger Quinn McKenna (played by Milk and Gone Girl’s Boyd Holbrook) is detained by the secret government people and placed into a military prison group headed up by ex-Marine and all around badass Nebraska Williams (played by Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes), together the two disgraced soldiers, alongside a rag-tag group of fellow prisoners escape from their prisoner transport bus and form their own task force unit to take on the dangerous alien hunter.
Oh yeah, and McKenna has an autistic son, who is an absolute genius with patterns and code, and can understand and decipher the alien technology and language that he was sent in the mail a little bit earlier, which of course is initially doing little more than alerting the predator and drawing it to his location. So, now that we have our whole team of ex-soldiers and the sexy lamp scientist together, it’s time to get the battle against the Predator going, but hold on a second… here’s BIG JAWS… I mean, BIG PREDATOR! And he’s brought his PREDATOR DOGS with him, and he’s 11 feet tall, and is going after Regular Predator!! You can’t make this stuff up, dear readers. But I digress, I will leave what happens next (and trust me, a LOT more stuff does) unrevealed as I fear I’m already starting to dip my toes in the sea of spoiler alerts… and I do want to keep this review as Spoiler-Free as possible – which is admittedly somewhat difficult, given the fact that all of the above-stated information is necessary for you to be able to begin to understand what’s going on here.
If you haven’t already figured it out by reading this far, this film is just a big, convoluted mess. Everything is just disjointed, chaotic, nonsensical, and jam-packed full of endless CGI violence, on-screen insanity, and more quips and witty one-liners than a Kevin Smith biopic as interpreted by Diablo Cody starring Ryan Reynolds. In fact, just about the only things that AREN’T jam-packed in this movie are… you know… credible characters and a coherent plot.
Don’t get me wrong, the cast do the best they can with what they’re given. Many times throughout the film will very clearly show you the cast trying their best to make chicken salad out of the chicken you-know-what they were handed in this script. This is doubly impressive after learning of Olivia Munn‘s personal struggles during filming and post-production between her reported discomfort in working with a registered sex offender who was fired from the film after her complaints, and reports of subsequent strife with her fellow cast and crew-members following the incident. This is, of course, unrelated to the finished product on review here, but I felt was worth mentioning, especially given that Munn very clearly tried her best to make her laughably poorly written character work.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, The Predator isn’t quite as a bad as I’ve probably made it out to be in this review. It absolutely has its enjoyable moments of good old-fashioned action movie ultra-violence, cheap thrills, and plenty of genuinely funny moments…both intentional and otherwise. Unfortunately, the funniest moments by far came from the unintentional comedy very widely on display here. It’s honestly almost like Shane Black enlisted the services of Tommy Wiseau to help him write and direct this one with all the plot holes, nonsensical, silly moments, and terrible dialogue thrown in all over the 107-minute runtime. This entire film very much reeked of a phoned-in cash-grab wherein the filmmaking team just threw everything Predator-related they could at the wall hoping something would stick, but instead just made a bigger mess of a franchise that quite frankly didn’t need any help in that department. I had fun with it, personally, and I don’t regret seeing it, but I absolutely would if I paid money for this… hence, I can’t in all good conscience recommend you spend any money whatsoever on this one. But hey, if someone else is paying, and you just want some stupid sci-fi splatter action to laugh at, by all means go have a good time. – 5.0/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine