Movie Review: “The Predator”
After a Predator crashes on earth and slaughters a local military platoon, the lone survivor escapes with some alien technology. Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) takes the alien tech so that he has proof of what he saw. Before Quinn is captured by government officials who intend to keep him quiet, he ships the alien tech to a P.O. box back home. Once in custody, Quinn is placed amongst a group of fellow military rejects and misfits, who have found themselves on this group for various reasons.
Meanwhile, the military has captured the alien asset, sedated it, and taken it to a top secret facility. A scientist named Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) has been called in to study the biology of the creature, but The Predator quickly escapes captivity. Being one of the few survivors of The Predator’s escape, Casey crosses paths with Quinn McKenna and the band of misfit ex-soldiers. Quinn knows just where the Predator is going and, together, they hope to track The Predator, learn its intentions, and stop it from killing as many people as possible.
The Pros & Cons
Dumb Decisions (-3pts)
The Predators (+5pts)
The Tone (-10pts)
Pro: Comedy (+3pts)
A lot of people hated the comedy in this movie. At times, does it feel out of place, but I thought it made the filler significantly more entertaining. Could the filmmakers have filled the “filler” with interesting character stories? Sure, but instead they filled it with comedy that I thought the comedy was mostly funny. Keegan-Michael Key is an obvious comedic relief with plenty of entertaining moments and a handful of ridiculous jokes that will leave audiences laughing and smacking their foreheads.
I was honestly surprised to see that, in addition to Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane delivered some effective comedy. His character is an ex-soldier with Tourette syndrome. Some of this comedy feels very forced, but there are a few funny moments. At The end of the day, audiences were not going into this movie expecting comedy, so it ended up leaving a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of people. I do not disagree with where those people are coming from, but I thought the comedy was effective at keeping audiences entertained during the scenes when Predators were not on the screen.
Con: Dogs (-3pts)
I really do not know what the purpose was for these things. The larger Predator has two Predator dogs that felt unusually gimmicky. The things just did not do anything noteworthy. Sure, they gave the antagonists something to fight, but they were not formidable and took away an opportunity to have The Predator (you know, the thing audiences went to see) on screen.
The dog fight scene felt pointless, and the creatures themselves were ridiculous. The dogs worked in Predators, but it just did not feel like they had a place here. I was able to tolerate two different species of predators, but having the predator dogs was just pushing it. It unfortunately turned out to be a bad decision by the filmmakers, and did not seem to have even an intended payoff, let alone have a payoff that worked.
Pro: The Action (+6pts)
For the most part, audiences will be going out to see this movie for some mindless action. Although there is not anything truly special in the action, the action was definitely there. The Predator has some pretty violent, brutal kills that were certainly entertaining. Unfortunately, there are only a couple action sequences that were memorable.
A ton of dangerous alien tech that falls into all of the wrong hands and that creates some unique kills. The best action sequence, by far, is when the Predator breaks out of the top secret facility. The Predator is pissed, and takes his rage out on anyone he can get his hands on. It is an awesome scene that embodies why audiences went to see this movie. The rest of the movie is showered with decent action that is entertaining while it is happening, but it was the breakout sequence that will stick with audiences.
Con: Dumb Decisions (-3pts)
As is the case with a lot of action movies, there are quite a few dumb decisions that are made by the characters in this movie. They are presented as brief lapses in judgement by the characters, but really just come across as lazy filmmaking. These dumb decisions either move the plot along or keep certain characters alive. There is one bad decision that I enjoyed. It involved turning the head of Sterling K. Brown’s character. That is all I will say about it and if you blink you will miss it, but I like it because it was unexpected and felt realistic, even though it robbed audiences of an impactful conclusion with this character in this movie.
Other bad decisions include antagonists announcing their intent to shoot protagonists in the back of the head (allowing said protagonist to escape), and Casey Bracket’s involvement in this story after the breakout scene. The character, a scientist, watches the Predator slaughter countless armed soldiers (or trained security, I honestly do not know) and she decides it is her responsibility to contain the killing machine. She also watches as the Predator only kills people holding weapons or devices, yet it spares her. Her solution? Grab a gun! I am a fan of Olivia Munn and I do not think she was bad in this movie by any stretch of the imagination, but her character felt very irrelevant. The excuse for her being in the story? A dumb decision.
Pro: The Predators (+5pts)
Setting the dogs aside, the Predators in this movie were pretty cool. The costumes, visual effects, and Predator action have never looked better than they did in this movie. The normal Predator (the one most similar to what we saw in the original movie) had an awesome suit and seemed more dangerous because of how effectively it moved. Having just watched the original, I had a fresh memory of the stiff movements of the Predator in that movie. This gave me an appreciation for how well the costume design allowed the actor underneath to move around.
The bigger, badder version of the Predator was all CGI and it looked great. The visual effects were very detailed and made the monster look realistic (as realistic as a giant scorpion mouthed murderous alien could look). What I enjoyed most about this Predator was the concept. It has all the capabilities of the other Predator (armor, heat vision, active camouflage, etc.), only it does not have a suit. It’s body had been enhanced to give it all of these capabilities. It seemed like overkill to make it as tall as it was but, other than that, I had no complaints about this Predator. Both Predators looked cool, and came across as extremely dangerous, which is exactly what they needed to be.
Con: The Tone (-10pts)
This movie's biggest problem, by far, was the tone. To be clear, I think it is unfair to judge movies by comparing their tones to previous installments of their respective franchises. I am all for new filmmakers coming on and doing something different, but I did not feel like the filmmakers knew what tone they were going for and I did not think they delivered the tone that fans wanted. These two issues made for a confusing tone that will disappoint audiences.
Fans are going to see The Predator hoping that it recaptures the intense horror-style action that the original movies did so well. That is not what this movie is. It has the action, but the filmmakers did not seem to know when to turn the comedy off. The best example of this is Sterling K. Brown’s character, who is supposed to be an antagonist, but is constantly delivering comedy that falls flat and prevents audiences from taking him seriously. Should this movie have been void of any comedy? No, but the filmmakers let it get in the way of giving audiences an epic, intense, blockbuster.
Grade: C- (73pts)
Was this a bad movie? No, there were actually plenty of things and moments that I enjoyed, but it was still a pretty disappointing movie. The action was pretty cool, the comedy was mostly funny and the Predators looked better than they ever have. There are some memorable things about this movie. The Predator breakout scene was awesome, and some of the comedy worked really well. There are dumb decisions throughout this movie (most of which involved Olivia Munn’s character), the Predator dogs seemed pointless and ridiculous, but the movie’s biggest issue was its tone. I got the impression that the filmmakers got too caught up in making a “cool“ predator movie, and forgot all about the tone.
It just did not seem like the filmmakers knew what tone they were going for. Fans and audiences are going to see this movie for intense, alien horror, but this movie has almost none of that. The comedy itself was not the problem. Comedy can be used as an effective tool to get audiences through filler scenes, but the filmmakers did not seem to know when to turn the comedy off. Scenes, that should have been intense, had too much comedy to be taken seriously. This then left a bad taste in the mouth of fans. The result is a highly anticipated movie, that (even though there were a few things I liked) ended up being a big disappointment.