Every Predator movie – ranked!
It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these, but a new Predator movie seemed as good a reason as any to run the franchise. Get to the chopper!
7. Aliens vs Predator: Requiem (2007)
Revisiting the original Alien vs Predator film was actually a pleasant surprise (as you will discover if you do me the honour of continuing to read on). But this sequel… this is a real piece of shit.
One thing that Hollywood has learnt to do well in recent years is to look after profitable franchises. AvP was a box office success, both the Alien and Predator franchises are big business. And yet, for this turgid sequel, 20th Century Fox hired a directing team who were most renowned for making music videos for Nickelback, a writer whose only previous credits were Armageddon (famous for having a terrible script) and the Shaft remake, and a cast of complete unknowns. Predictably, the result is stinking turd of a movie that is shot in near total darkness, has no memorable characters and no plot to speak of. Not only by far the worst film in either the Alien or the Predator franchise, but one of the worst films of all time.
6. Predators (2010)
By the time Predators rolled around in 2010, we were over 20 years removed from the original Predator movie. The AvP movies had been pretty much dismissed by fans of both franchises and so Predator was ripe for a reboot. Which kinda makes this film feel like a missed opportunity.
We return to the jungle for the first time since the original, but this time, the eclectic mix of warriors are parachuted in without their consent and with no explanation. A talented cast ably led by Adrien Brody but also featuring Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo and Mahershala Ali elevates the lacklustre material into something watchable. Indeed, the first 30 minutes of this movie in which we meet are heroes and discover more about their situation is pretty great. Conversely, the final half an hour, in which everything is bathed in an inscrutable darkness that renders the entire film incomprehensible in places, is frustratingly familiar. There is some intrigue in the Predator vs Predator plot, but this is also never really justified or properly explained.
A starry cast and some good moments of tension building ensure that Predators is a competent if unexciting sequel.
5. Alien vs Predator (2004)
Toxic fandom wasn’t so much of a thing back in 2004, except for a small regional cinema in Doncaster when I showed up for Alien vs Predator. I was furious when the credits rolled on that thing. The noble xenomorphs reduced to so many clay pigeons for the predators to pointlessly hunt. And the predators themselves, the mighty predators! Nothing more than a human’s companion. With the benefit of hindsight and without the weight of expectation I can see this movie for what it is. A silly action romp in the vein of the similarly titled Freddy vs Jason.
The mixture of CGI and practical effects surprisingly holds up really well and the xenomorphs have never looked better, the face huggers have never looked more nightmarish and the predator has never looked so… well… goddamn ugly. The human cast don’t live up to their extraordinary counterparts, but Sanaa Lathan puts in a spirited and compelling performance as final girl Alexa Woods, and if you try to remove this movie from the two franchises that bore it there is a good time to be had here.
4. The Predator (2018)
Shane Black should have been the perfect man to reboot the Predator franchise. He starred in the original (and helped out with the script). He’s a great writer/director in his own right (Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang). He has experience in the action genre. And to give him his due, The Predator is pound for pound the fourth best Predator movie since the original (just about).
It helps that Black has an eclectic and talented ensemble cast to work with (Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Yvonne Strahovski among others ), and his trademark one liners ensure that this is definitely the best script since the original – not so much the plot, but the dialogue. It’s also closer in tone to the original whilst still adding in some new ideas like predators fighting other predators. There is even a direct through line to the original films with Jake Busey on the supporting cast (whose father Gary Busey appeared in Predator 2).
3. Predator 2 (1990)
A Predator sequel was always going to be a tough ask because if you just send another group of tough men into the jungle it will always be a pale imitation of the first movie. With that it mind, the Thomas brothers (writers of the first movie) instead dispatch the predator to downtown L.A. in the midst of a crimewave and pit it against tough LAPD cop Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover). While this hard pivot should be applauded for its audacity, the execution is a little off. Director Stephen Hopkins doesn’t have the chops of John McTiernan, and so the action sequences don’t really pop. One long train scene is particularly flat and seems to go on forever, but having said that, the ending takes a big swing and works out just fine, and Danny Glover does well in a rare leading role for the iconic actor.
Predator 2 is not a great movie, but it’s a serviceable sequel with some fine moments. It also marks the first time that a predator would cross paths with a xenomorph in a sequence in which Harrigan comes across a xenomorph skull aboard a predator spaceship.
2. Prey (2021)
The Predator franchise has never been coherent. Most franchises feature a number of films that follow on from each other. In the Predator franchise, it is unclear what is canon and what isn’t. What is undeniable is that Prey marks the first attempt at a proper Predator prequel, and director Dan Trachtenberg does a fine job of it too.
Fresh from her breakout performance in The Ice Road, Amber Midthunder portrays Naru – a Comanche warrior attempting to prove to those around her that she is a capable fighter. What better way to do that then to take on the ultimate predator? Trachtenberg does a great job in rebooting an ailing franchise whilst still remaining true to the violent origins of the source material. There are some visually stunning moments here, not least an incredible battle between the Predator and an actual bear.
In the end, and against all the odds, Prey is probably the most outright successful entry in the Predator franchise since the original. An unlikely success.
1. Predator (1987)
Of course, the number one spot on this list was never in doubt. It is worth noting; however, that watching Predator again all these years later made me realise just how perfect an action movie this is. It is right up there with Alien, Terminator and Die Hard, and while the franchise as a whole couldn’t maintain its quality throughout the rest of the run, there is no denying this film’s visceral power.
Arnie is on scintillating form and at the peak of his powers, a supporting cast featuring Carl Weathers, Bill Duke and Jesse Ventura is packed full of action movie royalty and the Predator itself has never been more terrifying than it is here. Director John McTiernan, working from an original screenplay by Jim and John Thomas, wisely chooses to keep the Predator in the shadows for much of the film, ensuring that when he does finally appear in the third act, the tension has been ratcheted up to 11.
Quite simply, one of the best action movies ever made.