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Overall Rating
3.11

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look: 11.11%
Just Average66.67%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 11.11%

1 review, 3 user ratings


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Predator, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Another decade, another Predator."
3 stars

"Predator" had no business spawning a franchise at all, and yet Twentieth Century Fox keeps trying because, while there's nowhere to take it without losing the sheer 1980s muscle-headed appeal of the original film, it's just too damn merchandisable. So roughly every ten years the try again, and it's not like they don't give it their best shot, but digging deeper into the mythology behind a dumb action movie is something of a fool's errand. This attempt to do so is pretty capable, in a disposable-paperback way, but even by those standards could have been more.

It opens with one alien spaceship chasing another, the first taking damage as it escapes to Earth through hyperspace, crashing to Earth in the middle of an op where sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is in the middle of an operation south of the border. McKenna fares much better than most do when faced by one of these "Predators", but he's canny enough to know that seeing this has likely made him a target, and tries to get himself some insurance. Back home, his pre-teen son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) is being bullied for being on the spectrum, and Project Stargazer operative Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) is recruiting biologist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) to investigate what McKenna has found. Oh, and speaking of McKenna, he was right to be worried about what the government would do with the only living witness to a UFO crash, as they've put him on a bus to a VA psychiatric hospital with a bunch of traumatized soldiers.

Though director Shane Black and his occasional partner-in-crime Fred Dekker are the only credited writers on this film, it's got the feel of one of those projects where a studio solicits a bunch of different pitches and then tries to Frankenstein the best parts of them into one movie. Any single one of these stories - the secret government agency, the team of traumatized veterans, the chance for some Black & Dekker holiday mayhem with a monster running around the suburbs on Halloween - could play as a new take on the Predator story, and given that the series has by circumstance never had much in the way of film-to-film continuity, there's nothing stopping the studio from just lining them up one after another, especially if they can be done on reasonable budgets. Throwing them all together like this, the plots wind up in competition to the point where the characters from the various threads are trying to kill each other for no good reason. It's not just frustrating in that none of the threads feel like they play out properly, but it takes some exceptionally dumb plot devices and Macguffins to hold them together.

It's slick enough, at least - Black indulges his tendency to write everybody as a sort of cocky wiseass a little more than usual here, but it works out okay: It is actually kind of fun to watch Olivia Munn suddenly go full action-scientist without bothering to give any sort of explanation on top of selling some jokes in such dry fashion that some in the audience will treat them as serious. Sterling K. Brown's Traeger can sometimes be the walking embodiment of how audiences can treat something meant to be freaky as something they've seen before, and is sometimes too big for the movie to contain, but his scenes crackle. Everyone except Jacob Tremblay (who is pretty restrained as Asperger's savants go in genre movies) is playing it big and zippy, although you might want a little more from Boyd Holbrook's McKenna. The actor's not bad here, but Holbrook is basically avoiding being swallowed, not grabbing his space at the center of the movie and making it his.

Black runs hard into the problem at the center of making <I>Predator</I> sequels - these guys are great monsters because of excellent design and because they don't need to be anything other than competent and relentless, so knowing more about them makes them less fearsome even as not learning more leaves them one-dimensional - so he does what he can to have fun around that, from winks to the earlier films to some randomly mean-spirited humor. There's some fun sci-fi action beats, even if some don't make a whole lot of sense and it inevitably boils down to more bullets.

But give Black some credit - "The Predator" is comfortably under two hours and holds off on outright stopping to drop things more related to other movies than this one until a quick epilogue, which itself is done before the credits roll. That's far more considerate than many people with similar assignments have been, so even if the studio doesn't try to relaunch this franchise again until the mid-2020s and doesn't pick up where this leaves off, it will still be a passable bit of bloody science fiction.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=30604&reviewer=371
originally posted: 09/17/18 19:23:56
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2018 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/15/18 Alien Chicken Not bad but a bit too jokey for my liking 4 stars
9/15/18 the giver of the finger total crap! 1 stars
9/14/18 the giver of the law Easily the best of the entire series so far, a truly amazing film worthy of 100 viewings. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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  14-Sep-2018

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