Earth becomes the hunting ground for an advanced alien race once again in Shane Black’s The Predator.
All told the Predator franchise is in a lot better shape than some others. I’d be prepared to say that there hasn’t been a bad entry prior to this one though this is only the fourth film starring this particular alien race if you ignore the Alien Vs Predator films so there is smaller sample size than other similar franchises.
The story this time out is that a member of the Predator species is on the run from a larger and meaner member of its own species and a group of solders are caught in the middle of their conflict. The film goes into some detail about the reasons for this particular visit but it’s largely unnecessary and overcomplicated.To the film’s credit it rarely lets the overcomplicated plot get in the way of the action.
Unfortunately none of it really works. Too much emphasis is give to the Predators and their motivations when previous entries worked so well by keeping that aspect of the story very simple. The first movie worked so well because the Predator was a mysterious unseen threat where this film has entire scenes where people talk about the alien visitor and speculate as to its true purpose. Thankfully these scenes aren’t too long but they do stand out as being unnecessary. This is largely designed to ensure that the audience invests in one of the Predators over the other but considering it liberally kills most of the humans it comes across this falls completely flat. Similarly the enemy Predator receives almost nothing in the way of development and fails to establish itself as a credible threat.
The human characters fail to measure up as well. Boyd Holbrook’s Quinn McKenna acts as a protagonist of sorts but he is neither likeable or well developed enough to carry the film in any meaningful way. His motivation to protect his family acts as narrative shorthand for him being a good guy but it’s nowhere near enough to solidify him as a meaningful protagonist. It doesn’t help that he’s surrounded by a collection of soldiers who are completely lacking in anything redeemable with far too many attempts to have these characters stand out as being edgy. The actors cast in these roles aren’t terribly by any stretch with Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key and Thomas Jane being among those cast. Among them is a really insensitive portrayal of Tourette syndrome , dialogue that lacks any form of maturity or self awareness and motivations so flimsy that they probably appeared as bullet pointed foot notes in the script because the writers forgot to add them before filming began. Jacob Tremblay’s Rory McKenna is the precocious son of Quinn acting as yet another tired example of the “autism as a super power” trope that is becoming more and more popular. Rory feels like an afterthought to the overall narrative with the extent of his importance changing as the film progresses.
There is something of a secondary protagonist in the form of Olivia Munn’s Casey Bracket but she fares no better than anyone else. Munn plays a scientist obsessed with studying aliens who also appears to be proficient enough in firearms to hold her own in a fight and is in peak physical condition as shown by her ability to keep pace with a Predator running at full speed. Her characterisation is badly inconsistent with significant shifts from scene to scene and she has no real personality beyond being the resident tough girl who can match wits with all the macho men around her. She is another thing about this film that feels like a throwback in the worst way.
Some of this would have been forgiveable had the action been worth it but this falls flat as well. Terrible editing makes for incoherent sequences where multiple deaths occur with no clear indication of what happened or who the victim was. Visually the film is a complete mess with obvious chunks cut out of key moments that might have helped clarify certain details. It’s abundantly clear that a lot of the story is missing and it’s obvious where many of the reshoots come into play. The best quick summary of the presentation of this film as a whole is that it’s a total mess. It’s mercifully short but that’s about the only positive thing that can be said about it.
An incoherent mess of a film with unlikeable characters, a disjointed narrative that has clearly been cut to the bone, terribly edited incoherent action and too much focus on uninteresting details. It’s abundantly clear that a lot of the story is missing and it’s obvious where many of the reshoots come into play. Almost nothing about this film works beyond its short running time meaning that it never takes too long to reach the underwhelming action sequences.
- The mercifully short running time
- sloppy editing
- unlikeable characters
- incoherent action
- too much emphasis on the uninteresting aspects
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