Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.
I wouldn't say I was bubbling with excitement for The Predator, but I was looking forward to it. I've been a fan since I saw the original with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Predator franchise hasn't done as well as Alien, but it has stood its ground nonetheless.
The film follows Quinn McKenna, a soldier on assignment who discovers a Predator and its spaceship (do we still not have a better word for that?). McKenna is the only one in his unit to survive the assault but is branded crazy and is loaded onto a bus full of vets who have their own issues ranging from Tourette's to anxiety to just plain good old fashioned crazy. They band together after the Predator shows up in an attempt to take it down. This isn't the usual Predator vs Human deal, however, as a bigger and more advanced Predator comes to earth to track and kill the other Predator.
There were equally things I liked and disliked. Shall we start with the positives? Yeah, sure, why not. I loved how there were so many nostalgic references to the first film. Arnold's infamous "Get to the chopper" line was used and of course the series' inside joke "you are one ugly mofo" (edited for younger readers) only this time, 'beautiful' was used rather than 'ugly'. There was a lot of great moments between the cast members, especially between Boyd Holbrook and Jacob Tremblay. There were some cool action moments with Predator, especially when the gadgets were used. Gotta love that alien tech. The best thing, though, was that we got to see something that hadn't been introduced before. We saw Predator dogs, which were literally four legged Predators. Yep, they had dreads too. Olivia Munn was a badass in this and I hope she's able to keep getting those types of roles. She showed some real range in this film, so top marks for her. Last but not least, the "surprise" ending gave some hope for the future of the series. I'll be interested to see what happens next, assuming the studio is able to continue the series now that Disney has bought Fox.
The negatives were mostly with the writing. Someone behind me in the theater said "That was funny!". And he's right, it was. But that's the problem. Predator films have never been comedic. Did they have one or two funny moments? Sure, but mainly for comedic relief. This film was written as a comedy first which took away from the entire experience. The film also couldn't decide if it wanted to make fun of illness or not. There was a ton of respect given to Tremblay's character who had Asberger's. Thomas Jane's character was the running joke with his Tourette's Syndrome. After learning that writer/director Shane Black also has Tourette's, it made me wonder if he was trying to make fun of the disease or himself. I understand wanting to use humor to get through a bad situation and the film never took it too far but rather skirted a line that's just barely in the acceptable range. Keegan Key was the worst part of the film and was a giant annoyance rather than a necessity.
Shane Black took the helm as both co-writer and director, proving once again after the financially successful but story-stale debacle that was Iron Man 3 that he seriously needs to stay away from franchises. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys were both fantastic films but for some reason Mr. Black can't take sequels as seriously as he does his standalone work. I'm not sure why.
In conclusion, the film had its fun moments but overall was less than great. It was average, definitely in need of improvement. I loved most of the cast and most of the story, but hated the overly comedic tone and "handicap humor". Since there's equally things I loved and hated, I give the film an even 2 out of 4.
© 2018 Nathan Jasper