Director: Shane Black.
Starring. Thomas Jane, Boyd Holbrook, Keegan Michael Key, Sterling K Brown, Trevante Rhodes, Alfie Allen, Jake Busey, Yvonne Strahovski, Olivia Munn USA. 1h 58m
For a while I had a lot of faith that after Shane Black’s death by the hands of the original Predator back in the 80’s cult classic jungle sci fi mayhem epic adventure, and his subsequent career as a director, that he could be trusted with this remake. But then I remembered he’s Shane Black and you cannot trust this man! To be fair Shane is totally okay and I still regained some faith but the writer, Fred Dekker was an odd choice. His previous classics are cult but for very different reasons, Night of the Creeps, Monster Squad (written with Shane Black) were high for their levels of comedy antics. Dekkers contributions for House (1986) gave the film a surreal and yet again comedic undercurrent, and his more recent work included Robocop 3 which ruined the trilogy by adding in some cute kids and morals… this is when I knew someone has fucked up.
However the fast paced, fast talking action comedy is really enjoyable, no really I did enjoy it, it’s not a great film in terms of mood and atmosphere, character building or life changing cinematography , it’s not groundbreaking in any sense, after watching it I really had to do some soul searching and realise Predator is probably never going to be in a jungle being discovered for the first time ever again. it’s okay.. Despite it’s injection of middle America mundane upbeat happy family and adorable kid syndrome, it turned out a lot better than I had expected. It seems the powers that be are intent on scripting more about the predators backstory and splicing our dreaded hero with lots of other DNA at every chance they get, he’s been part Xenomorph, now possibly part human..
But despite the comedy, heartwarming bromances it has so much vibrancy, not only does Black offer a lot of new material into the Predator game there are so many authentic nods to the original movie and the 90’s sequel, the music is the same, the army guys with unique personalities is similar, no one replaces Arnie that’s for sure but the new hero is on par. a bit of a guilty pleasure but when the moment calls for it, Mr Black has no hesitation to answer the call with epic adventure and violence but there’s just not enough on the plate.
After a brief romp in the jungle Quinn McKenna (Holbrook) encounters an alien while on a rescue mission, the rest of his comrades have been skinned but he and now silly ole me thought this was the skinned team that Arnie ran into, but it’s just another group of unfortunates, McKenna manages to escape with some of the alien artefacts, including a small device which makes him invisible.. he ships the parcel to his ex wife’s house, and carries on to be arrested and interrogates about his 4th kind encounter. Some other stuff happens, his autistic child can read alien, he gets banged up with a group of nutty soldiers who are good guys really.. meanwhile an attractive biologist is pulled by top security offers to work out why the sedated alien they have in a lab has human DNA. The alien wakes up, breaks out the army guys also break out and are in hot pursuit of the creature (rightly) assuming it’s heading to retrieve it’s goods from the basement of McKenna’s family…. and ladies and gentlemen we have ourselves a loosely grounded science fiction, action movie.
It’s a fun movie, possibly too much fun, there’s a lot of haphazard kitch thrown in and executed terribly and undermines the mindless violence that some of us adults were expecting even from the PG 13 action film but 80’s cinema was a very different game, and the lowering of standards for this kids stuff is everything which you’d expect from a Mr Black and Mr Dekker production, and the sense of danger and horror is never really present. One moment the Predator is smashing heads, then a kid is dealing with bullying issues, it just cheesed up the film too much, I kinda want my out of space bounty hunters to be dangerous and I don’t need the additional emotional baggage. There are some dreaded dogs quite reminisce of the gargoyle dogs from Ghostbusters but one gets brain damaged and despite it’s gruesome presence it’s a lap dog. It could have been a serious contender as another dangerous threat but with everything in the film it boils down to shits and giggles. Everything is a joke.
Homage is paid every few minutes to something from the original two movies, which add a lot of “Oh i see what you did there” and that’s commendable as the other cast of movies seemed to have stuck a finger up to everything that had come before. As much as the movie annoyed me and it’s abysmal, it’s remains very watchable if your willing to let go of the historical predator, which is something that would make a decent film….the real Aliens Vs Cowboys!
R – Predator (1987), Predator 2 (1991)
L – Predator RATED!
5s – Thomas Jane