The original Predator is a classic and one of my personal favorite monster films. The sequels have been a little iffy though, including the two Aliens vs. Predator movies. This most recent sequel has a lot of ground to make up for, so does it manage to make an impact?
Military sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is on a mission when suddenly an alien ship crashes to Earth. The alien is injured but McKenna takes a few souvenirs to prove that it’s real, before he gets hauled away to be questioned. The alien is being investigated by a science team (including Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, and Jake Busey). Of course, things go sideways and the Predator escapes and is trying to track down his lost gear, now in the hands of McKenna’s son (Jacob Tremblay). McKenna teams up with a bus full of veterans to fight the Predator, including Keegan-Michael Key, Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight), Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones), Augusto Aguilera, and Thomas Jane. But then a bigger and even badder Predator arrives on the scene, for some reason hunting the first one that landed. Our humans are caught in the crossfire of this battle and must figure out what these aliens want.
This film is directed by Shane Black (Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys). Black himself also starred in the original 1987 Predator film, so that’s an interesting little bit of trivia.
This is a fun movie. It’s fun to watch, with all the action and explosions, but you can also tell that the cast had a blast making it. Keegan-Michael Key and Thomas Jane carry most of the humor here, delivering laughs with almost every line. This is a comedy with the occasional horrific death. This is unlike the past Predator films, so fans of the franchise might feel a little uneasy about the shift in tone.
Everyone delivers decent performances, with what they’re given. Boyd Holbrook is the next Sam Worthington, able to get a few lead parts but lacks the chemistry to really be the next A-lister. The standouts are our supporting characters, who are all a little bit messed up, but at least interesting to watch.
What doesn’t work?
Now, this is going to look like a long list but “the movie is fun” might trump a lot of these factors for you.
The story on paper for this movie is a little nonsensical. The first Predator film was amazing because one alien was such a threat that it was able to take down an entire squadron of trained soldiers. Here, our humans are just bystanders. And this Super Predator that gets introduced gave me a similar feeling as what happened in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. To make a sequel, they just created a new version of the Predator. Let’s make it bigger, stronger, scarier. That model isn’t sustainable. A simple classic Predator is still enough to carry a movie but they chose not to go that route. Because of this, we get an entirely computer-generated big bad guy that doesn’t look or feel especially threatening.
So they failed in creating a solid enemy here. They also failed by forcing the idea of sequels, which also reminded me of the Independence Day sequel, which felt almost entirely as a stepping stone to more movies. The final scene in The Predator is silly and stupid and feels unlike everything this franchise stands for.
This movie begins in some really interesting ways and I was onboard for awhile. The cast was interesting and the idea of one lone Predator trying to recoup its lost gear made total sense. The movie then quickly spiraled out of control.
I also was not a big fan of the editing on display here. Very few Predator kills are satisfying, with quick cut edits and blurry camerawork. There’s so many no-name soldiers to kill that these moments stack up but feel generic. I also can’t tell you how most of the named characters die, their deaths were forgettable or crammed into an action sequence so that you almost miss them completely.
This is not a great movie. Its story veers even further from what made the original Predator films great and the gruesome kills that you’ve come to expect are uneventful and ruined by quick edits. However, this is a fun movie. If you want to laugh and you’re not too invested in the lore of the Predator films, this is a fun popcorn movie that you can just sit back and enjoy.