Writer and director Shane Black has helmed the latest installment from the franchise first introduced with style, gusto and thrills in 1987; Predator. Gone are the days of Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Dillon (Carl Weathers) and even Hawkins (played by Mr. Shane Black, himself). This time around the Predator lands in middle America to wreck havoc. Actually this film should have been titled The Predators since there are two of them. I did love what they did with the Predators in this film. They clearly put some thought into making the aliens into something a little different. One is eleven feet tall. If only they had spent the same effort on making the human characters as interesting and a film worthy of the Predator title.
In fact, The Predator had me in a groove for about the first fifteen minutes and then someone lets the air out of this one. What starts out as something interesting turns into a routine, mindless and extremely cheesy creature feature. The aliens land in the middle of a residential neighborhood and only a ragtag military squad of loons stand in their way. On their way to a military prison/hospital, the loon squad has the usual cadre of cliched characters, much like in The Meg. These are bland and uninteresting characters that we have seen countless times. My hope was that one of the stars, Thomas Jane (The Punisher, The Mist), was going to be allowed to cut loose, have fun and be funny. He had me laughing with the trailers but in the film, no such luck.
Shane Black, who is not a bad writer and director, has managed to miss every single point that made the original work. The 1987 film had a sense of humor that was genuine and established characters in pretty short order. About fifteen minutes into the 1987 version, I was hooked. Before fifteen minutes, really. Director John McTiernan knew what he had with his cast and played them off of each other very well. Black throws this cast together and although they do have chemistry, they don’t actually do anything of note. In fact, in one scene a couple of them want to eat pickles and watch TV. None of these characters are interesting and do very little to justify our vested interest in them.
Boyd Holbrook is the main lead as Quinn McKenna and he does his very best to keep a straight face but the rest of The Predator is so silly, everyone wears out their welcome as does this film. The Predator is a witless, obnoxious, abrasively loud and boring film despite the fact that people are skewered, impaled, gutted, disemboweled, dismembered and decapitated in large quantities. Everything is very routine in The Predator. The effects are a far cry even from the effects from the 1987 film. Only Henry Jackman’s score is passable with nods to composer Alan Silvestri’s iconic score from the 1987 film.
All the more disappointing is the fact that we fans have waited and waited for some kind of redeeming installment after being force fed the Alien Vs. Predator films. The Predator looks to be slapped together in a hurry as it has all of the elements to make a great film assembled but wastes them on contrived story telling, bad acting and a script that needed another couple of rewrites. All I kept thinking as I was watching this film unfold was if I was going to have enough time to take a nap before I went in to my night job. When a film makes you long for the days of Alien Vs. Predator you know you have a real stinker on your hands.
The Predator – * 1/2 out of 5
The Predator – Rated R for vulgar language, graphic violence and graphic gore
The Predator – Run time is 107 minutes. There are no post credit sequences. Believe me you will have suffered enough, by then.
If you simply must see this film, it is playing nationwide in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations.