Review: 'The Predator' hunts for a reason to exist
Spoiler alert: it doesn't find one.
It’s time to kill the Predator.
Yes, that’s the goal in “The Predator,” the latest entry in the waning “Predator” franchise, which has produced exactly one good movie – the 1987 original – over 30 years and six entries. (That’s if you count the two “Alien vs. Predator” movies, which were low points for both series.)
“The Predator” is a nonsensical jumble about a gang of oddballs – they call themselves “The Loonies” – taking on the space creatures during their latest invasion of Earth.
Pity writer-director Shane Black, who wrote the blueprint for the modern buddy action picture, from “Lethal Weapon” to “The Nice Guys.” (Black, in an odd twist of fate, was a cast member in the first “Predator”).
The more he tries to make sense of the plot – something about Predators coming to Earth and wanting to feed off the human race before global warming wipes out the planet, because where better to get environmental messages than “Predator” movies? – the more convoluted it gets, but at least Black is able to score some good callbacks to the original.
The reason that first “Predator” worked was its utter simplicity: a gang of super-musclebound dudes – two future governors, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura, among them – enter the jungle to fight an alien warrior. It was pure, testosterone-driven, Reagan-era, puff-out-your-chest action muscle, but it was focused and tight, and still holds up today as one of the finest examples of Schwarzenegger’s ‘80s dominance.
In that film the Predator himself looked cool, but it didn't have to do much more than that. Future installments in the series all failed to come up with a strong or compelling backstory for the creature, and the lesson of "Predator" was it didn't need one.
“The Predator” is over-complicated from the beginning and never finds its way. The cast, which includes “Logan’s” Boyd Holbrook, “Moonlight’s” Trevante Rhodes and the internet’s Olivia Munn, is strictly B-grade, and was seemingly assembled with future Comic-Con availabilities in mind. (Jake Busey’s calendar is probably open.)
Thomas Jane plays a character with Tourette Syndrome, for everyone that still gets laughs out of random outbursts of swearing. At one point a Super Predator, who looks to be about 12 feet tall, shows up for reasons that are unclear, and the less said about the terrible CGI Predator dogs, the better.
If anything, the release of “The Predator” is a great excuse to re-watch the original. "Get to the chopper," as Arnold says, and never look back.
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language throughout, and crude sexual references
Running time: 108 minutes