The Predator (2018)
A convoluted mishmash of action, horror, sci-fi & comedy that fails to do justice to either of the genre elements, the 4th instalment in the Predator film series is also the worst one yet. Awfully directed, shoddily scripted & terribly witted from start to finish, everything about this latest entry is at constant odds with each other so much so that these elements often end up neutralising the effect of one another, thus leaving behind a hollow feature so dull, disgraceful & disappointing that it’s insulting to the original film’s legacy.
The story of The Predator follows an Army Ranger who comes across extra-terrestrial technology when a Predator ship crash-lands in the middle of his mission. Taking the armour for himself after incapacitating the alien, he mails it to his own house before government agents could track him down. But things become increasingly complicated when his son unwraps the armour and inadvertently triggers the return of universe’s most lethal hunters to Earth. With limited time in hand, he enlists the help of a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers to save his kid.
Co-written & directed by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3 & The Nice Guys) who also had a supporting role in the original, The Predator finds him desperately trying to emulate the first film’s macho appeal, badass charisma, adrenaline rush, strong brotherhood, mercenary mentality, no-holds-barred action & unflinching violence yet he fails at everything, for the script lacks a strong foundation, features a laughable premise and is made even worse by its slew of wooden characters, insipid twists, awful dialogues, sloppy performances & downright horrendous execution.
There are inconsistencies & shortcomings obvious from the beginning and none of the creative choices that Black makes here works out in the film’s favour. Things don’t add up in retrospect, plenty of unnecessary stuff is crammed into the narrative while the PTSD-afflicted ex-soldiers are neither interesting as a unit nor compelling as individuals. Every single attempt to blend action & humour falls flat, and takes away the seriousness of the action in the process. Even the titular alien acts dumb on several occasions, which in itself is such an unforgivable sin that the filmmakers deserve no leniency for it.
There isn’t anything wrong with approaching a sequel from a different perspective but Shane Black tries to incorporate his witty flavours into the mix with such recklessness that the genre elements are constantly at war with each other instead of functioning in harmony. There isn’t a single moment that makes us care for the people inhabiting this story, and even the Predators lack their formidable & frightening appeal this time. A kid in the middle of it all, the Predator Dogs, the stupid decisions characters keep making etc, these things don’t add any weight to the plot but only expose the lazy & lacklustre writing.
The film packs a talented cast in Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown & others but the characters they are given to play have no flesh on their bones and their thin sketching doesn’t provide sufficient material for the actors to build their performances upon. So they all chip in with mediocre inputs. Every single one of them. The choppy editing & inconsistent pace don’t help either. Henry Jackman’s score is possibly the only aspect that’s complaint-free. And though the film doesn’t hold anything back when it comes to violence & gore, it’s still unimpressive & unstimulating in the end.
On an overall scale, The Predator doesn’t hold a candle to the original 1987 action sci-fi horror masterpiece and is another forgettable entry in a franchise full of disappointing sequels. Struggling to measure up to even the previous two mediocre films in the series, the latest Predator feature brings nothing new to the table, adds nothing of significance to the saga, and is unsatisfying on almost all levels. The fact that it makes Predator 2 & Predators look good says a lot about its quality (or lack of it). A myriad of one bad decision after another that makes for an interesting lesson in how to not tell a story, The Predator is one of the worst films to surface in cinemas this year.