If you're looking for a blood-spattered popcorn flick and are willing to check your brains at the door, then Shane Black's reinvention of the Predator series, aptly called The Predator, may be just the film for you.
The Predator kicks off with a deep space battle between two predator ships, one winding its way through a wormhole and crash-landing in a Mexican forest where it's subsequently discovered by an American black-ops sniper, Boyd Holbrook's Quinn McKenna, who is smack dab in the middle of an assassination mission. No complete dumb ass, Quinn knows there's going to be a cover-up and covertly steals some of the ship's tech and sends it off to his son, Rory (Jacob Tremblay, The Room, Wonder), a paint by numbers autistic young man with a social phobia and a kickass mind who manages to decipher the predator's language.
Now then, before we give the mostly irrelevant storyline too much attention, let me reassure you that my modest recommendation comes not out of genuine respect for the film but much more from the belief that a good majority of this franchise's fans are going to enjoy the hell out of this film. It's crassly profane, intentionally obscene, relentlessly violent, and unapologetic about its caricatures.
I have a feeling, love it or hate it, that Shane Black made the exact film he wanted to make. Black, who had a bit part in the original Predator from 1987, has given more than a few tips o' the hat to the original film while tossing in a ridiculous amount of ridiculous CGI and an ending so blatantly begging for franchise status that it nearly ruins the entire guilty pleasure of it all. The good news is that Black seems to be in touch with what made the original film both popular and the most critically successful of the series and he practically does a connect-the-dots of that pattern.
The team that gathers around Quinn, and there's always a team, includes a PTSD-laden, mostly forgotten group of ragtag ex-soldiers such as Nebraska (Trevante Rhodes), the clownish Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key), the weirdo Nettles (Augusto Aguilera), the obligatory Brit named Lynch (Alfie Allen), and Thomas Jane's Tourette's afflicted Baxley. While Holbrook lacks the dominating presence of a Schwarzenegger, that could be said about virtually every human being on earth not named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Truthfully, Holbrook doesn't have to do anything brilliant here. He just has to hold things together and for the most part that's mission accomplished.
If you're walking into The Predator, there's a pretty good chance that you really don't give a rat's ass about the storyline. That's probably for the better, because it's a mumbo jumbo mess of global warming, conspiracy theories, genetic modification and a bunch of things that ultimately don't tie themselves together very nicely. It's as if somewhere along the way in the editing process, someone realized that shooting for a storyline was futile and aiming for funny violence was a more attainable goal. There are scenes spliced together so haphazardly that IMDB doesn't have nearly enough room on its site to document all the continuity errors.
So be it. It's still a lot of fun.
From the film's opening minutes, Black, who co-wrote the script with Fred Dekker, never lets up on the action sequences, witticisms, and unabashed violence and sensibility skewing stereotypes.
If you're easily offended, this ain't the film for you.
However, if you're looking for a couple of mindless hours of blood-spattered, humor immersed violence that makes no sense and has no real purpose, then The Predator may do just enough right to make you happy.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic