Thursday 13 September 2018

Film Review: The Predator

Can Shane Black lend his magic touch to the Predator series? The results may surprise you...

Writer/director Shane Black – who is best-known for writing or directing buddy cop comedies like Lethal Weapon, The Nice Guys or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but starred in the first Predator movie way back when – has been brought onboard to give this ailing franchise – if you can call one classic movie, two forgotten sequels and two dire spin-offs a franchise – a shot in the arm. And on paper, it's a match made in heaven; but in reality, the results are anything but divine.

Rooted back on Earth, featuring a ragtag ensemble cast and fit to burst with crass wisecracks courtesy of its sassy scribe, The Predator has all the ingredients for a delicious action sci-fi rollercoaster, only to waste literally everything it has going for it and emerge a shambling, incoherent mess of a film.

The plot, which can only be described as slapdash and needlessly convoluted, follows Quinn (Boyd Holbrook), a black ops sniper whose unit gets killed by a strange cloaked creature in the Central American jungle. Having poached it during the fight, Quinn mails the creature's high-tech helmet back home, where his autistic son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) mistakenly opens the box and plays with the settings. Hell bent on retrieving his gear, the Predator stalks Quinn home; but the creature is being tailed by his own more fearsome enemy.

The film also features Olivia Munn as a biologist who is recruited by the government to unpack the Predator's secrets, as well as Sterling K Brown as a government operative tasked with bringing the Predator the down and Quinn in for questioning.

My hopes for The Predator were dashed within minutes; the first act of this film is so disjointed it makes Suicide Squad look good (okay, maybe not, but you get what I'm getting at). And although things started out shaky, there were signs everything could come good – the second act, believe it or not, had some stuff that worked. The bunch of misfits soldiers who find themselves swept up in Quinn's quest – starring the likes of Keegan-Michael Key, Alfie Allen and Trevante Rhodes – had palpable chemistry. They vibe with one another and the jibes flowed thick and fast, in classic Black fashion.

But once the action kicks into gear, boy does this film go off the rails – and fast. The Predator seems to have fallen victim – and this is just a hunch – to studio tinkering and tampering. All the telltale signs are here; a disjointed first act that swaps setting up the characters for 'cutting to the chase'. The film bounces from here to there with a string of 'scenes' that are more like moments. Wild tonal shifts. Hasty edits that try to circumvent woeful CGI. Narrative beats that aren't teed up, go nowhere or lack payoff. Emotional moments that aren't earned. Characters who pop in and faze out without so much as a 'how do you do'. An action-driven third act that just rolls on and on. It's unmistakable, and reeks of a situation where competing visions have sought compromise and instead cooked up a monstrosity.

The Verdict: 3/10

The Predator is a mutated mess that tries to smush a hard-boiled 80s action movie into the confines of contemporary franchise filmmaking. Bogged down with too much plot, riddled with narrative beats that lack payoff and saddled with characters who we couldn't give two shits about, this is an oddly misshapen misfire from the cult director that fails to deliver in almost every regard.

The Predator is in cinemas across Australia from today.

1 comment:

  1. Oh boy, this doesn't sound good. I'm going to see it tonight I think, but as I've never seen any of the Predator movies (don't hate me please) I was kind of hoping to enjoy it!



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