The original “Predator” is still one of my favorite movies of all time, which is why I still perk up whenever a new movie in the franchise is announced – even though they haven’t all been good. So how about the latest one, simply called “The Predator”?
Directed (and written) by Shane Black, who was also one of the supporting actors in the original movie, The Predator isn’t what I had expected. If you’re going into the movie hoping for something with a similar vibe to the first movie, you’ll be disappointed. As a modern sci-fi/action movie, however, it works.
What made the original Predator so great for me was the nail-biting suspense. Sure, I was relatively young when I first saw it and I’m sure that made the experience even more intense. Still, not knowing what was out there was a feeling shared by both the viewer and the cast, and the overwhelming strength of the stealthy predator that was being demonstrated didn’t instill much confidence either.
Shane Black’s “The Predator” doesn’t waste any time on mystery, intrigue and suspense – the predator in this movie crash lands on earth in the first scene and takes out a bunch of trained soldiers in a heartbeat – and does so very loudly. And if that’s not enough, halfway through the movie we also get introduced to a 10 foot tall predator who tears the original one into pieces. “They have evolved”, we’re told – although why they had to be gigantic to be more effective is beyond me (when considering the first movie). I suppose the answer lies in the fact that this modern predator is more melee-oriented, which translates into different kinds of action sequences as well.
The movie isn’t a standalone product though, it does reference the source material. They mention that they’ve had previous visits from these creatures, back in 1987 (the original Predator movie’s release date) and then in 1997 (which is when Predator 2 takes place, even though it was released in 1990). They also paraphrase Arnold’s classic “get to the chopper!” line when talking about nabbing a bunch of motorcycles, which is “The Predator” in a nutshell.
It’s a movie that doesn’t take itself (or its source material) too seriously, and isn’t afraid to do something new with the source material. It leans a little too much towards horror comedy at times though, with even the predator showcasing he likes a little gag as he escapes in the back of a truck. It’s a little over the top, as is the case for most of the movie – tons of joking between the different characters, gratuitous violence and gore all around, and plenty of stereotypes.
Although the cast isn’t as memorable and easy to empathize with as the one in the 1987 original, they’re certainly interesting. Main hero Boyd Holbrook (playing Quinn McKenna) gets saddled up with a bunch of colorful misfits, they encounter pretty scientist Olivia Munn, and Jacob Tremblay plays Quinn’s son and get caught up in the middle of it all.
In this day and age of Marvel and DC movies, The Predator is a bit as if the iconic horror character just got its own comic book rendition. It’s bold, over the top, and it’s nothing like the movie I fell in love with all those years ago. Is that a bad thing? Kind of, because that movie hit a tone that few movies do these days. But at the same time, The Predator is a fun ride while it lasts in a “what’s this now?!?” sense. Just don’t expect it to leave a lasting impression when it’s over.