The Predator (2018) is a project you hear about and instantly get excited over. A return to a franchise with a very good first instalment, an underseen and underrated second instalment, and...other movies and crossovers.
All directed and co-written by Shane Black, who brings things full circle having been cast in the original and punching up its script. It’s been a long time since 1987’s classic, but Shane Black too has had a lot of time to grow and evolve and hit peaks of his craft. Coming back to the well, however, brings mixed results.
Black, by no easy feat, has written and sometimes directed some of the smartest, funniest, genre defining and defying flicks in the last few decades. He’s done things small - like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - and he’s done things big - like Iron Man 3. All of his films evoke his charm, his characters, his humour, his unconventional and unique storytelling.
The Predator has a lot of Black hallmarks, but much like shifting a focus to Halloween rather than Christmas, The Predator is a little off. It’s no fault to the characters, The Predator has a fantastic cast and the dialogue is on point as expected other than a few eyebrow raises and deliveries. Just when you think the movie has gone without a good joke for a while, it’ll hit you with a pinpoint Disneyland joke you don’t expect.
Once we get all of our people together on a mission, they rock. They make us laugh and they make us interested. It doesn’t hurt that the cast is fantastically charismatic. From the always perfect Sterling K Brown to the forever surprisingly effective Olivia Munn, the supporting cast round out a film full of great lines and characters that make a bunch of misfits super watchable. Unfortunately, the movie isn’t called “The Misfits Hang Out and Are Hilarious”, it’s called “The Predator”, and that’s what brings things down.
It’s all a hazy mess in regards to what’s actually going on with The Predator side of the film. You can infer a lot and some characters flat out state what’s going on or what they take to be the Predator’s plan of attack, but it’s all a bit clunky. Predators in general are watchable and easy to get as a concept, but The Predator falls down the biggest trap that is “the sequel must be bigger and better”. A much bigger Predator does not a instantly effective movie make.
The whole idea of this Uber Predator, plus the evolution of Predators as a whole as explained in the film, feels awfully weak and cheap, much like some of the effects. For all the amount of fun I had with the story and the action and the reversals and the humour and the characters and the dialogue...The Predator fell down on what I was expecting to see.
Some of the ideas were silly, and not the good tongue-in-cheek-fun silly. And that’s what brings it down for me. The Predator is a good fun time that ticks a lot of expectations for Shane Black - one of my personal favourite screenwriters - but it doesn’t tick a lot of expectations for a good Predator sequel. Maybe stick to Danny Glover in the big city.