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Film Review: The Predator

Shane Black is in the director’s chair for the next installment of the The Predator franchise.
When a merc, Boyd Holbrook, finds the helmet and wrist gauntlet of a crash landed Predator, he sends them off to his PO Box, but it ends up at his estranged wife’s house where their young son inadvertently sets a chain of events in motion that brings carnage and alien terror into suburbia.

I quite like Predator, not so much some of the sequels, but I’ve always enjoyed the original, and The Predator is one of cinemas greatest alien creations. It looks cool, no matter what it’s doing, and I had high hopes that this movie was going to take us back into the claustrophobic nightmare of a group of desperate people being stalked relentlessly by a monster that out maneuvers them at every juncture with deadly results. However, the sad truth is that this latest outing is a missed opportunity that drops the ball in nearly every scene.

The trouble with The Predator, is the incredibly bad dialogue and the huge tonal swings that completely confuse the viewer. The opening sequence is full sci fi with space ships and portals. It starts well as we see The Predator crashing to earth, taking out some mercenaries and jumping straight into the initial plot. However, once we get into introducing the main characters that will take on the mission to find the alien on Earth, things start to shift. Our raggedy band of ex-soldiers, that are all scripted with quirky traits so we can remember them, meet on a bus as they are being carted away to a psychiatric hospital, or something.The members of the team are so devoted to proving they are hard, that they only talk in one liners and sweary words.

The interactions between the characters becomes quite tiring, and it goes on for the rest of the film. Equally appalling is Olivia Munn’s character Casey Bracket. This biology professor goes from alien enthusiast scholar to Lara Croft in one easy step. It’s a problem that nearly all the cast have. They are attacked, beaten, thrown around, shot at, chased, blown up and all with no consequence until we need to get rid of them. Munn is seen wielding rifles with barely any inconvenience and in the final reel, seems to teleport to exactly where she needs to be at exactly the right time. Yep, things just happen all the way through the film because it needs to, with very little explanation – it’s a problem.

The story seems to lose track of itself, there’s an attempt at doing something new, introducing new concepts, and we are left with the what is obviously a set up for future releases, but in the end it’s all so scrappy that it’s hard to invest. I found I didn’t really care for any of the leads, and their almost super human abilities and death defying antics made me care for them even less. Nobody come across as a real person here. It’s a shame, as things generally look good. With nearly a $90 million budget, the effects are fine, except the CGI aliens dogs, yes, that’s a thing now, and the gore and violence is suitably vivid, but by this point in the action, you are beginning to disengage. The supposed funny one liner quips feel out of place. Is nobody here actually worried about the presence of a killer alien? They certainly don’t react as if they are.

Nothing seems to matter except pushing the plot forward and as a result the whole third act is a bucket of slop. Unfortunately this is another huge box office disappointing mess of a film, that should have had been a chance to revive this franchise for a modern audience. Instead it’s a hollow soulless plodding re hash of un original ideas held together by a series of set pieces. Honestly, it’s enough to grind you down.

Rating: 4 out of 10