The Predator (dir. Shane Black, 2018) – The predators return to Earth, with only a ragtag team of soldiers to stop their lethal attacks.
Contrary to expectations, Shane Black’s take on Predator satisfies more in blood than in plot.
After witnessing the Predator murder his unit in cold blood, Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) was discharged from the Army and thrown amongst a crew of PTSD-ridden ex-soldiers. The effort to discredit him only found him a team with nothing to lose, ready to take on the extraterrestrial threat against Earth.
Testosterone-driven action, snarky banter, stylistic violence. On paper, Shane Black seems the perfect man for the job of bringing The Predator back on screen. His link to the franchise brings him back full circle too; he had been the hunter’s very first kill back in the 1987 Arnie-fronted classic.
Three decades since his entrance into the film industry, he now helms the making of several successes, including own major film series Lethal Weapon and the brilliant Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. All boxes checked, the thrill is real. But such expectations, coupled with fan nostalgia, were perhaps too easy to fall short of.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was (and is) never an easy action hero to live up to. Black has the tough job of making a convincing lead out of McKenna. This time, his strength in buddy-cop humour worked against him, making Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key) and Baxley (Thomas Jane) stand out more than they should.
No doubt McKenna was in no mood for crude jokes. But his straight-laced soldier blended right into the background. Always rushing to the front line yet never quite making an impact, he never earned his place as a leading hero. It feels apt that he believed himself to be the hunted, when it was his son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) the Predator was after.
Equally unwritten was Dr. Casey Brackett (Olivia Munn). As with many expert characters in the genre, her ‘scientific’ findings merely scratched the surface and hardly contributed to the story, which largely relied on the latter part of science fiction.
For all that was lacking, entertainment was aplenty. References matched the gore in amount, showing how the loud rallying for the hard-R rating has been heard. Lasting carnage just about satisfies the strong horror fan base. If only The Predator cares for a plot as strong as its passion for evisceration; the concluding minutes sadly disagree.