The Predator (2018) marks the fourth addition to the long running franchise, not counting the now non-canon Alien vs. Predator movies. Fun fact: this film’s director and co-writer, Shane Black, was one of the actors in the original movie. He played Hawkins, the team member who had ‘I’m going to die first’ stamped across his forehead.
The movie begins high up in space with two battling spaceships. Right when you start to wonder whether or not the theatre has accidentally put on a Star Wars movie, we’re treated to a shot of the Predator (Brian A. Prince) almost immediately. Wait, isn’t the number one rule of any monster movie to show the monster as little as possible? Granted, the filmmakers could have figured that after 31 years of pop culture exposure, everyone knows what the predator looks like, so why bother. To which I would say they might have a valid point.
One of the ships end up crash-landing on Earth, where it dispatches a bunch of U.S. soldiers predator-style before being captured by government agent Will Traeger (Sterling K. Brown). The only survivor is Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), who Traeger silences by shipping him off with a bunch of other soldiers who have gone crazy. Rounding out the cast is Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn), the scientist that gets brought in to examine the predator.
Of course, the Predator escapes and in the ensuing events, McKenna, Bracket and the rest of the loonies team up to stop it, though the plot thickens with the introduction of the Ultimate Predator. A character I would normally consider to be a spoiler, but seeing how they’ve been all over the trailers and marketing, there’s very little point. Which is unfortunate, because similar to Terminator: Genisys (2015), having that character be a surprise would have been better.
Going back to the opening, because I feel it shows this film’s largest problem. When I think Predator, I don’t think space battle. I have no idea what this movie is trying to be, but whatever it is, it’s not a Predator movie.
Almost all elements of horror and suspense found in the previous installments are gone. For instance, I want to say that the predator only does its trademark mimic ability twice. Which just leaves the action, of which there is nothing special.
Then there’s all the quipping. Every character in this movie gets at least one sarcastic remark. Like, for instance, Bracket says that the term predator is actually inaccurate as they hunt for sport, not food, and a big game hunter would be better. To which Traeger responds by saying that he and the rest of the men in black voted that predator sounds cooler. Now, some sarcastic comments would normally be fine, except here it feels Avengers: Age of Ultron where there are just too many quips. After a while, it just seems really out of place.
There’s other bits of comedy like McKenna’s autistic son (Jacob Tremblay) wearing predator technology as a Halloween costume and using it to scare off two bullies. Which, while certainly amusing, is just—how is this in a Predator movie
Other than that, I don’t really have much else to say. The acting’s pretty good, especially from Keegan-Micheal Key. The script could have used some more work, the characters being rather undeveloped. The ending wastes several minutes setting up an unnecessary sequel. The only other element of praise I can offer this movie, besides the faint praise of it at least being better than Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, is the special effects. The sets, makeup and CGI look fantastic.
If you’re someone who’s seen every other installment and is like, “Well, I got to see this one, I’m invested in the franchise now,” I’d recommend waiting until you can get this one at Redbox or Netflix.