Movie Review – The Predator

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The Predator – Ridiculous fun, but by saying that, I don’t want to sell this film short. My first instinct was to write that this was a check your brain at the door and go for the ride kind of movie. However, on closer inspection, there are some smarts behind what is presented to the audience. That determination is made by seeing that the writer and director of The Predator is Shane Black. Black is more of a screenwriter than a director who has always had quirky, humorous takes on his subject matter. He has given us classic screenplays such as Lethal Weapon, The Monster Squad and The Last Boy Scout. When he has stepped behind the camera as director, he has given us features like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys. All of these projects are action-centered with doses of humor. So knowing this, you realize when watching The Predator that nothing going on is truly serious and most is tongue-in-cheek. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it is a veiled spoof of the Predator franchise. If you are looking for a straight forward action film, this is not it, although there are plenty of great action sequences. Instead you get a lot of play on 80’s sci-fi adventure cliches and the genre in general. A large, self important music score. Un-PC humor. Over the top action sequences. Plot points that are never explained or preposterous. Cheesy one-liners, etc. etc. The basic story of this film is that a renegade predator crash lands on Earth fleeing a more monstrous hybrid of his species. Actor Boyd Holbrook (of Narcos fame) plays Quinn McKenna, a covert military sniper who witnesses the crash landing of the space pod while attempting to free some hostages in South America. The government has been tracking the spacecraft and bring in McKenna for questioning. When he mentions that he saw an alien being leave the ship, he is sent to military prison with a bunch of misfit, borderline insane outcast soldiers. And I mean over the top bonkers. Keegan-Michael Kay tells inappropriate jokes at inappropriate times, Thomas Jane has Tourette Syndrome, actor Augusto Aguilera takes everything in a literal biblical context and so on. Meanwhile, the head of the government team Traeger (played by Sterling K. Brown of This Is Us and Black Panther) and his team have captured the predator and are searching for his spacecraft and its military grade alien hardware. Little does he know, but McKenna has mailed the predator’s helmet and tracking device to his autistic son (Jacob Tremblay from the films Room and Wonder), who, being a genius, unlocks the alien code. Throw in a female scientist (Olivia Munn) who somehow knows everything about alien culture (which is conveniently never explained) and you have quite the motley cast of characters. Eventually the prisoners break free to fight what they think is the Predator, but there is actually a hybrid Predator chasing the first predator which has acquired super-DNA from warrior creatures around the universe that is even deadlier. He’s even got monstrous, predator dogs with him. As mentioned, everything is over the top here, with blood and limbs flying everywhere, coincidental plot twists and hammy acting. And it’s all the more fun for it. In the spirit of films like The Ice Pirates, The Delta Force, and D.A.R.Y.L., along with nods to classics like E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, this is nothing like the original Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger, but is the most entertaining sequel yet in the series.

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