The Predator is the 2018 installment of the popular sci-fi franchise of the same name. It’s directed by Shane Black and co-written by Black and Fred Dekker. Going into this, I had some hope for a quality entry in the series. Shane Black actually appeared in the 1987 original, and he and Dekker co-wrote 1987’s The Monster Squad, which is a fun little comedy horror romp. Of course, Dekker also wrote the not-so-good RoboCop 3, so there was a risk there. Now that I’ve seen it, did it live up to my expectations? Well, not entirely. These are my thoughts on the film.
- The Yautja themselves were pretty badass, and as a result, the action scenes were definite high points in the film. Seeing the Predator tech in all its glory was beautifully brutal, and exactly what you’d expect from this sort of film. The complete lack of fear that the two titular aliens show for humans surprised me though. If you delve into the extended universe at all, you’ll see that humans are portrayed as a sort of ‘boogieman’ for young Yautja, and are viewed as dangerous prey. Of course, the situation that the smaller of the two found himself in would perhaps explain it, as he was absolutely in a position to be both peeved and viewing it as a fight for his life. In that regard, I can forgive the minor lore misstep.
- The human characters were a mixed bunch, but they were entertaining enough. I thought that Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) and Nebraska (Trevante Rhodes) came off the best of the lot, but ‘The Loonies’ were fine as protagonists in general. If you don’t like ‘your mum’ jokes, Coyle will probably grate, mind you.
- Casey Bracket, played by Olivia Munn, surprised me. Honestly, I wanted to like her as a character. She was designed to be both intelligent and capable of holding her own in combat, which is great, and she had some genuinely funny moments scattered across the film. The problem is, she also had a few lines that really stood out as things a biologist likely wouldn’t say in my opinion. To give a few examples here:
- “He grew an exoskeleton under his skin.” – Well, that would be an endoskeleton then, surely?
- “What is time advantage? Like a head-start?” – Well, that should have been obvious.
- (In reference to the autistic child character, Rory) “Can you tell your kid to tone down the psychosis please?” – Because that what all doctors are likely to say in front of an autistic child who’s understandably panicking due to, you know, being hunted down by an alien.
- The general concept was interesting, though I felt like we may have missed out on a lot due to cuts and reshoots. Some things just happen out of the blue – like the Predator helmet randomly showing a flashback to Rory, or the characters just deciding that the Predator was bringing them a gift to help fight his species – and we don’t really explore things fully. I think I read that the studio interfered a fair bit though, so that may explain it.
- I love the nods to other entries in the film series. The re-used music was good, and I did giggle when Nebraska looked at the motorbikes and said, “Get to the choppers.” Oh, and Jake Busey playing the son of his Dad Gary Busey’s character from Predator 2 was cool.
- The ending was disappointing. This is a spoiler, so skip ahead if you don’t want to know, but…the smaller Yautja in the film was apparently leaving a gift so that we could defend ourselves against the other Yautja. This turned out to be a gauntlet that can magically open out into a human-sized Yautja suit, complete with massive guns. The whole scene was a mess of bad CG and a lack of sense. I mean, Yautja gear doesn’t tend to collapse in on itself in impossible ways. If anything, despite the sci-fi elements, it’s actually quite realistic. The scene was clearly designed to set up further films, but I really hope they don’t push this idea further.
- It could be worse though, as there were two other possible ‘gifts’ filmed but not used: Ellen Ripley and an adult version of Newt from the Alien franchise. The older of the two, Ripley, isn’t canonically born until 2092, thus making that impossible without time travel. I don’t recall ever seeing anything about the Yautja being able to do that. And Newt? She died while still a child at the start of Alien 3. So, again, impossible, not to mention an odd choice for a superweapon. I mean, maybe she can mostly fight them at night, mostly?
So, where does that leave us? Well, if you want an action-heavy piece that’s heavy on the gore and jokes, it’ll entertain well enough. If you put stock in the extended universe or were hoping for a plot that makes sense throughout, you’ll be out of luck though. It’s not a bad way to spend an evening regardless but unfortunately doesn’t reach the heights that many hoped. As I score, I give it a 3 out of 5.