The Predator is a bloody, shotgun-paced actioner, loaded with expletives. The goofball characters race through the script; rattling off as many f-bombs as bullets. The speed of the story keeps your interest, but it becomes tonally cartoonish. The Predator is too comical in its approach. Writer/director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3) ratchets down the gravitas. The result is a film that entertains, but feels inordinately lighthearted.
Boyd Holbrook stars as Quinn McKenna, an elite army sniper. His unit runs into a rogue predator while on a mission in Mexico. Quinn, stupefied by the encounter, clandestinely ships back home pieces of the alien equipment. The lethal tech unfortunately ends up in the hands of his autistic son (Jacob Tremblay). While Quinn is interrogated by a cutthroat operative (Sterling K. Brown), another far more dangerous predator arrives.
The Predator is filled with quirky characters. They provide the laughs while the aliens make mincemeat. Everyone has a one-liner, or physical gimmick that identifies the character’s weird personality. The boy, a first in the franchise, uses autism as a sort of comic foil. Shane Black’s script, along with co-writer Fred Dekker, is initially successful with the barrage of foul-mouthed dialogue. Black’s signature style, his black humor, buddy cops on a mission prose is evident in every frame. There’s a point when the story needed to pull back and get serious. It never does, even in the carnage overload of the climax.
The Predator will keep action junkies out of rehab. The film is action packed from start to finish. No individual scene is truly spectacular, but there’s a lot of eye candy to behold. The super predator, as I will affectionately call the beast, is a rampaging killing machine. It makes every predator to this point seem like minor league players. Again, the film would have benefited greatly by a darker tone. The big baddie needed to be more menacing. Remember those great infrared scenes in the original, when the predator would sneak up and eviscerate the hapless mercenaries. That’s missing here, and could have added that needed darker element.
The plot has several twists and turns. Some are more successful than others, but they go hand in hand with the breakneck pace. Young Jacob Tremblay, an Oscar nominee for Room, is key to the story’s development. He adds a new dimension, bringing a child’s perspective to a known commodity. I’ll be curious to see how his character is used in any future sequels. The kid has talent and stands out in the film.
I loathe to bring up the controversy that’s befallen the film, but will address as its apparently news. Olivia Munn, who co-stars, discovered a bit player she shared a scene with was a registered sex offender. She protested to 20th Century Fox, and that scene was cut from the film. When The Predator premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, Munn complained that the ensemble cast “shunned her” during the press rounds. This bit of real life drama has ZERO effect on the final product. It’ll be a shame if any of this negative publicity has any impact on the box office. The Predator is a worthy continuation to the franchise. The action alone warrants viewing.