No matter what, The Predator was going to be a fascinating film whether it was good or bad. It’s just not very often that you see a franchise span over a long period of time without rebooting. What do the creators think about the audience for such an iconic movie monster, and what do they want out of modern-day world building for that universe?
Unfortunately, the answer to that question is, “Not much.” What I found interesting was how the opening to The Predator felt like it has the ingredients to capture the best parts of the franchise. Though the franchise started in 1987, making it just over 30 years old, it has only had 3 entries prior to The Predator all of which share some core thematic values. When I think of Predator and its successors I think of tense Science Fiction Suspense thrillers. The Most Dangerous Game, but with creative aliens that stalk in the dark.
While the opening for The Predator hints at the chance of tension, the action for the film is devoid of grounding. The Predators march through action sequences with such ridiculous invincibility that it is impossible to feel any sense of apprehension or concern. While they were ethereal and elusive in all their previous movies, here they are front and center and are so ridiculously overpowered that it is atmosphere breaking. On top of all of this, the narrative is so loosely composed that it’s impossible to believe that there’s any kind of coherent direction for the characters, much less a theme of predation that is the driving core of the Predator films.
The Predator has the worst kind of plot in that it completely falls apart as soon as you get a moment to think about it after all of the action, clever dialog, and entertaining acting fade away. It’s important to note here that I enjoyed watching the movie. I was entertained by the banter and greatly appreciated the elements that the film succeeded in preserving from the franchise, but the story is just the worst. It has nothing to say about the universe, it has nowhere interesting to go with the characters, and the strange and out of place social commentary about global warming feel ridiculously thin and contextually inappropriate. All of the connective tissue from scene to scene is written so lazily and with so little care for what anything means that there is absolutely nothing of substance here.
Writer and Director of The Predator, Shane Black has roots with the series as he both played in and contributed writing to the original film. Shane Black’s writing style is iconic and identifiable and watching the original movie you can clearly identify any of his contributions. In addition to intense Science Fiction suspense, this type of cutting dialog has also been a staple of the franchise, and one that I am happy to say is actually present in The Predator. I would go so far as to say that the exchanges between the characters may be one of the only reasons this movie is worth watching at all.
And that fantastic dialog is delivered well by a collection of truly fun actors. I just wish their characters had some kind of use other than sharing Shane-Black-style quips. Sterling K. Brown stole every single scene he was in as the lead government agent, and the character acting from all of The Loonies is outstanding. Even if no one could bother to give them a genuinely compelling reason to work together.
Lastly, I also want to give some credit to The Predator for having real gore. I’m talking people cut and half and intestines slowly unraveling out, heads with spinal columns ripped out of bodies, people just shredded to bits by furious monstrosities. I’m talking the type of gore we haven’t seen since the 80s in really fantastic over the top Science Fiction flicks like Total Recall, Robocop, and even the original Predator came out in the 80’s. The type of shocking visuals that can give a great movie a real punch and make it extra memorable.
The important part of that sentence is that the movie has to be good even without the gore. These visceral elements do little to nothing without anything of substance to enhance.
It’s a complete shame that the tight dialog and hyper-violent gore have such a thin and stupid movie to hold up. And really… they’re just not enough. There’s a good chance you’ll enjoy watching this movie, I know I did, but it will not stick with you. It will begin fading away almost as soon as you walk out of the theater, and leave you with nothing to think about or even really to talk about on its own merits. And that is sad. There are better movies out, give them a watch.
|Final Verdict:||Fun to watch, but it gets worse and worse the more you think about it.|