This review is spoiler-free.
When it comes to the Predator franchise, most will look to the first two movies in the series. Some prefer Schwarzenegger’s outing, others, including ourselves, prefer the sequel with Danny Glover. Though to be fair, Predators (2010) was a decent movie with a fresh premise. So where does Shane Black’s The Predator movie stand, in term of the franchise?
In a nutshell, this movie makes Aliens vs Predator – Requiem look like The Shawshank Redemption. In fact, if you want a better movie experience, don’t go and see this film, watch AVP2 instead. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about this movie, I don’t know what will.
Here at X-Geeks we always try to find the good in everything we review and focus on the positives. But that was a difficult task with this movie.
So where to start with this mess of a movie? How about the story?
In fairness, the plot is simple, but it works. It has a clear structure, and while you can see every beat coming a mile off, it does the job. Fans of the first film will enjoy it. A bunch of gun loving mercenaries taking on Predators to save the world. Throw in the new “bigger, badder” element of the hybrid Predator and you have all the tropes of a typical sci-fi actioner. It’s packed full of action movie cliche dialogue and eye-rolling one-liners. On this ‘no brain cells required for viewing’ level it’s an ok movie. The problem is there is no finesse. There is no special element that makes the movie different or special. It doesn’t stand out or grab you.
The unique selling point is the action scenes and that it’s gory, yet it offers nothing else. Even the sci-fi elements are secondary most of the time, this despite the fact that the film, very early on, tries to sell itself as a purist sci-fi movie.
As for the cast. They are working with terrible dialogue and no one is able to elevate the material. Boyd Holbrook does not carry this movie as a lead actor. Essentially, if Carter Blake (Deep Blue Sea) and Owen Grady (Jurassic World) had a child, it would be Holbrook’s ‘Quinn McKenna’. Though take away all the redeeming qualities and force him to spout some of the worst dialogue in cinema history. As for Olivia Munn? Oh boy. She tries, but this is even below X-Men: Apocalypse in terms of a performance. And that’s the thing, while the cast is clearly trying, they don’t do enough as individuals or as a collective to elevate the movie. Yes, the dialogue is terrible, but the level of performances are simply not compelling enough.
The only cast member to come out of this not covered in green Predator gunk is Sterling K. Brown, but only just. His character arc is engaging enough, though it’s a character we have seen many times before. He was ok, the character was ok, it was just ok. If Sterling struggles, the rest of the cast didn’t stand a chance.
Now, onto the man behind the camera, Shane Black. This has been his passion project for many years. And to be fair to him, with the likes of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang on his CV, he’s not exactly a terrible director or writer. But after witnessing this, I won’t be rushing to go and see his Doc Savage movie. He’s delivered an 80s action movie with the gloss of a modern movie. And a lot of it doesn’t translate. We need more than cheesy, nonsensical dialogue. We need more than just explosions and an unlimited supply of bullets. Black was a big part of why this movie failed.
But we like to be positive, so let’s end on a positive note. Some of the action sequences are filmed fill and executed without disaster. Again, the story goes from point A to Point B well enough. But that’s about it. There is also a great subtle character tie-in that I personally enjoyed. Some may find more gems of wonder in this movie, but for me, it was a struggle. It was just too dated and needed more than just guns and more guns.
The Predator is not a good movie. From awful dialogue to a cast who failed to elevate the bad hand, they were dealt. While a basic story structure tries to form a solid base, the rest of the ingredients just do not mix well, leaving a stodgy, tasteless mess. Personally, I’d wait for a home release if you feel like you need to see it. Save your cinema money and go watch anything else.