‘Gentleman, they’re large, they’re fast, and fucking you up is their idea of tourism…’
The Predator franchise is a curious beast. Sure, the original is a much loved classic deserving of its iconic status but since then it has been an exercise in diminishing returns. Predator 2 works as a nice time capsule of late ’80s/early ’90s cinema but is mostly forgettable, the less said about Alien vs Predator the better and 2010’s dreary Predators was the worst of the bunch. So why, over two decades after the original, are we once again discussing a Predator movie in this day and age? And does it justify its existence? You know what, I think it probably does…
I really don’t want to get bogged down in plot here because it’s all meaningless really. Basically, we have a rag tag group of soldiers, led by a heroic Boyd Holbrooke and a bad ass Olivia Munn, attempting to save the world, and themselves, from the return of a goddamn Predator.
Plotting is largely the movie’s major downfall. The beauty of the original Predator was its simplicity. You had a battle to the death featuring some soldiers, led admirably by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and some evil, killing machines known as Predators. It was that simple. In this latest instalment there is good humans and bad humans, there is good Predators and bad Predators. There are subplots about PTSD and broken homes. There are mercenaries and Predator dogs. It’s all going off. If there is one thing that a Predator movie shouldn’t be, it’s complicated.
It was the mystery surrounding the Predators themselves that made them so alluring in the original film. Shane Black said in the run up to this film that he wanted to explore the Predators mythology. Why? The more we find out about these great cinematic destroyers, the less interesting they become.
All this is a shame because there is loads to enjoy here. Shane Black is at the helm, a writer/director who boasts such credits as Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys and he does a good job in blending humour with bone-shuddering violence in a way that none of the other Predator sequels have managed. An eclectic cast including the aforementioned Holbrooke and Munn as well as Keegan-Michael Key, Alfie Allen and Yvonne Strahovski of The Handmaid’s Tale fame all bring the script to life and manage to make what could so easily be an interchangeable and forgettable group full of personality.
If Shane Black had cleaned up the script and cut off about twenty minutes we would be left with a potentially excellent Predator sequel. In the end, we have something messy and inconsistent, but still a film that long term fans will enjoy.
And seriously, anything is better than Alien vs Predator. Christ, that movie was an abomination.