Movie Review: Possibly The Predator’s oddest hunt

Predator
Movie Review: Possibly The Predator’s oddest hunt
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. He is a graduate of Journalism from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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This fall’s trend of average-to-awful blockbusters only gets continued with The Predator. White-knuckle sci-fi fans were hoping for an action-packed escape. Instead, it’s a disjointed and boring mess with a few cool, shiny moments.

Continuing a thirty-one year old film franchise, the posters promise an “evolved” hunt in a 21st century sci-fi thriller. Instead, there are several plots that jump back and forth that echo the Predator franchise’s emptiness. Watching this feels more cluttered than catchy.

This fourth instalment (with decades between each new one) introduces us former army US ranger Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook.) After discovering a spaceship in Mexico and facing a violent alien hunter, he befriends a group of fellow soldiers. Many of them suffer PTSD, and each have their own demons.

The rest of the film is more or less a wild goose chase to find the alien and kill it before it kills them. There are a few other plot lines about who these creatures are and where they came from, but none of these matter unless you’ve seen all the other movies.

Filmmaker Shane Black has moved from actor in the 1987 original Predator to the director and writer’s chair. He’s made great blockbusters before, but clearly nobody coached him to exercise some creative control.

Photo: 20th Century Fox

He’s made great comedic action flicks before like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys. Unlike those movies, The Predator takes itself much too seriously. Only Keegan Michael-Key earns any laughs, and his character is a mere token in the soldier unit.

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Black is best-known for directing 2013’s Iron Man 3, a commercial success with a polarized audience that rivals Star Wars: The Last Jedi. If you disliked the controversial twists and unappealing characters of Iron Man 3, you’ll absolutely hate The Predator. It has an eerily similar feeling of strangely spinning an established franchise.

Most scenes are missing any fast-paced action or plot twists that make prolific thrillers like this…well, thrilling. The conversations are long and shallow, often skipping basic details about what’s going on. Character names, for example, are skipped entirely or dumped all at once. (And after the laundry list, the names are never used again.)

Where Black truly lost control was his staggering use of violence and profanity. While sporadic, the gore and body mutilations are bloody and prominent. The only thing worse is the language; a certain word starting with “f” is lazily used nearly 200 times in less than two hours.

If the overly-serious tone wasn’t glaring enough, Jacob Tremblay playing Quinn’s son highlights the film’s flaws. His overly cutesy and open style of acting was interesting in the Oscar-winning Room and The Book of Henry. Nowadays it feels like a stale party trick.

Being engaging was the low bar set for the film. Despite succeeding at being cool, Black has forgotten to make the movie fun and instead made it mean. So while The Predator continues hunting a worthy target for its sadistic pleasure, I’m still hunting for an worth mile story.

The Predator
2 out of 4 stars

18A, 1hrs 41mins. Sci-Fi Action Thriller.
Written and Directed by Shane Black.
Starring Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn, Keegan Michael-Key and Sterling K. Brown.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP. Also in IMAX 3D.

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