The hunt is off. Shane Black, arguably the master of crackling dialogue and cool storytelling, turns in the latest instalment of the Predator franchise (disappointingly not titled Predator: Resurrection, to keep up the kinship to the Alien films), the first of which he himself has starred in. Naturally a talented director clearly with passion for the material should result in a cracking product, yes? Well, not today.
When a ragtag band of out-of-commission soldiers (almost like some sorta… suicide squad) come face to mandibled face with a pair of seemingly rival Predators, it’s up to them to save the world.
The cardinal sin The Predator makes, especially with Black at the helm, is that it is just so damned bland. Predator was an effective sci-fi action movie, Predator 2 at least moved the action to the big city, upping the stakes, and Predators posed the interesting plot of hunting humans on a big-game planet. Each film had an endearing and engaging quality, however effective or ineffective it turned out to be (it should also be said that Predators had a better Predators-fighting-each-other plot). The Predator feels one-part E.T and another part Suicide Squad, and simply passes by as a result.
The characters barely register, not one performance ever standing out. The band of soldiers could literally be swapped around and nothing would change, save for Thomas Jane’s tourette’s riddled comic-relief (which the film takes several steps back from, along with a risible depiction of autism in Jacob Tremblay’s character) ,which is saying something, given they’re all comic-relief.
Black’s direction feels slick enough, but the story is so uninspired it is nothing short of disappointing. Was the best/only answer to reinvigorating the franchise really “make the Predators bigger”?
The editing is equally risible, as are the effects. The action is run of the mill choppy-chop cuts to substitute for actual adrenaline, and at one point, a dog is simply edited out of the film after seemingly being built up as an integral part, and is replaced by a Pred-hound (yes, they have dogs, and yes they also have dreadlocks). The larger Predator is neither scary or convincing, and is sadly the main monster focus.
There are some positives, however. The Predator’s escape from the government facility gets the adrenaline flowing a bit, and indeed the creature looks cool. And there are some gleefully dark Black-esque moments (the kid gains an accidental body-count/a fantastic gag involving the Predator stowaway on a truck).
There may be more, indeed the film does promise a sequel (albeit in a cartoonishly cack-handed way), but The Predator fails to ignite any interest. All it comes off as is a B-Movie with a big budget. And given the talent involved (including the writer of… Robocop 3), you won’t be rewarded after hunting it out.