After a string of bad sequels, Director Shane Black seemed like a saving grace for the “Predator” series – the perfect choice with his particular style of comedy and having portrayed Hawkins in the original film. Sadly, Black’s entry into the franchise doesn’t quite live up to the original, and only barely manages to surpass the previous sequels. Thinly written characters, unimportant plot elements and poorly edited action sequences show that “The Predator” should have spent more time preparing for the hunt.
Former Army Ranger Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is being sent away on a loony bus after his team was brutally murdered by a strange alien. McKenna was the only one to escape and was able to send off some alien technology before he was caught. The bus changes course to a government institution to question what he saw and where the missing technology is. Soon, McKenna is on the run from both a government agency and an alien only known as the Predator. With only a ragtag team of ex-soldiers and a scientist, he must save his family and kill the aliens that threaten everyone.
“The Predator” doesn’t try to break new ground with its story. An alien crashes on earth and goes on a murderous rampage while the government tries to cover it up. It is something very familiar and yet each iteration has something new that keeps it mildly interesting. There are many parts that feel like they should be important but end up being irrelevant. No one comes to these movies expecting an intriguing and thought-provoking plot. They come for blood, guts and gore of an alien tearing through people, and it delivers for the most part. In the end, the story serves its purpose in getting the film rolling and keeping the film from getting stale.
While the story doesn’t detract from the movie, the lackluster action and poor editing does. Many of the action scenes are unintelligible, and it is impossible to tell who or how people are killed. The fast pace, the humorous quips and gags and the many explosions and mutilations try their best to keep the film on its feet, but they can’t fix the problem. With a lack of good action, it is difficult to sit through the character banter when there will be no payoff at the end.
The acting performances are not awful, but the characters themselves are written poorly and it is difficult to care about them. Keegan-Michael Key as the wisecracking ex-soldier Coyle and Sterling K. Brown as government agent Traeger are good for a few chuckles, but they never move beyond the occasional funny one-liner. Black’s style of comedy is the most redeeming parts of the film, but it can’t make up for what is missing.
In the end, Black gives a reasonable attempt at creating a callback to the goofiness of 80’s action flicks. It has plenty of quips, explosions and body mutilation, but lacks interesting characters and the ability to create a cohesive action scene. “The Predator” is not for anyone who is looking for anything more than a generic explosion and blood-filled action movie.