The Predator (2018) Dir. Shane Black
Wow! Just wow! To have seen The Predator is truly to have witnessed a tragedy. Why may you ask? Well, I’ve been reviewing films on and off for 10 years now and this movie left me flabbergasted in a way very few have.
The 4th instalment of The Predator series (discounting the AvP films), the film sees one of the original film’s stars and now noted director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys) return to the sci-fi stylings launched by Schwarzenegger and co back in 1987.
One of the flaws of the first Predator film was the late insertion of a Predator spaceship heading to Earth in the opening. Without this scene the glorious alien reveal half way through the movie would have been even more impactful.
So how does The Predator open? Well, much like the rest of the film it takes anything remotely enjoyable from the series and throws it in the bin with a poorly-rendered CGI spaceship crashing on our planet. Immediately The Predator – whose main skill in the previous films is its infamous cloaking device – is shown on screen in a gun fight with a group of soldiers. No mystery. No intrigue. Poor action. Here we go.
And you know what was missing from the classic 80s action film original? Well, you may not have known it, but what you were really clamouring for was a child star and some scenes of a school chess club.
Tackling autism so inappropriately not even the likeable young actor Jacob Tremblay can do anything with a script and characters that are so clunky, underdeveloped and clichéd. Characters may be too generous a term however and whilst the boy ends up with Predator armour that his military dad (Boyd Holbrook as Quinn McKenna) has mailed to him, the Predator has since been captured ready to be tested on in a lab.
And what a lab! Imagine if you will Dr. Evil’s lair from Austin Powers as brightly lit as the pure-white scenes from THX1138. Yet with the appearance of Jake Busey (a sly nod to his father’s appearance in 2) and a set seemingly made of cheap plastic, the film begins to have all the cinematic gloss of a jungle grub.
McKenna’s army “hero” ends up joining forces with a set of inept military captives and Black’s talent for witty scripting is nowhere to be seen as “yo momma” quips and Tourette syndrome expletives pepper the awful, no woeful, dialogue.
How could this get any worse? Well, there’s Predator dogs, a larger Predator antagonist (both badly CGI’d as well) and “action” scenes set amongst the corridors of a high school. Alien vs Predator: Requiem was rightly slated for its dark lighting rendering scenes unwatchable but the TV-level cinematography swings the opposite way here. Over-lit and under-cooked, the film’s focus on children, slapstick bro-dude “comedy” and the inane script gives that film some competition in its awfulness.
Even the little things annoy. A weapon prop so badly designed it looks like the SEGA Menacer video game light gun. A rubbery-suited Predator design from a Las Vegas fancy dress shop. A selection of 90s-level VFX sequences that look like outtakes from The Faculty.
Whatever this film set out to achieve it fails across every single one of them. The Predator is a dumb, badly-written and awfully constructed mess of a film whose one saving grace is that it makes all other Predator films seem better by its very existence. It’s almost beyond comprehension how any of this even passed the brainstorming phase and with a low box office take we can only hope no further sequels are in the works anytime soon.