Directed by: Shane Black
Written by: Shane Black, Fred Dekker
Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Sterling K. Brown
Runtime: 107 min
From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home in Shane Black's explosive reinvention of the Predator series. Now, the universe's most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species.
When a young boy accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.
I never truly enjoyed the Predator franchise. The first one was fine, but the next installments were really bad (and don't make me talk about the AvP movies). However, Shane Black is an extremely capable director, and he already proved himself with several amazing films (The Nice Guys, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and he wrote the screenplay for Lethal Weapon). So, I was slightly hopeful that he could change this saga into something more interesting.
Unfortunately, not only he wasn't able to do it, but he delivers one of his worst movies. Honestly, I have no idea how such a successful director can film a movie like this. Terrible cinematography (it became a trademark of the franchise), incredibly choppy editing and such a dull story. There are so few action sequences and the hunt that the film promises only starts in the third act.
The other two acts are a failed attempt to build characters so the audience can care about them, but their script is so flat and depthless that I can barely remember their names. Filled with exposition after exposition, one of my biggest issues is how farfetched and unrealistic a specific character's trait becomes unbelievably significant. I don't have a problem with being open-minded and accepting questionable plot points or devices, but I can't be a brainless viewer, and that's what The Predator asks of the audience.
Like I wrote above, the story lacks action, and the character development is so shallow that I didn't really care about a single character, not even the protagonist. Shane Black struggled to control the movie's pacing, and I yawned more than just a couple of times. The mix of comedy and action didn't always mesh well since the jokes are nowhere near the level Black's showed in previous flicks. The most I could express was a smile, and that's due to Keegan-Michael Key being hilarious by nature.
Another disappointment is how the action is handled. Shaky-cam all over the place, poor lighting in the night scenes and a ridiculous work on the editing room makes almost every single set piece hard to understand. There are so many cuts between, for example, a person just throwing something at someone else, or running to a certain spot that it completely loses all sense of space. While I applaud the more bloody and brutal kills (which makes total sense in the Predator saga), the fact that I could barely see anything makes it less notable.
Even the casting is off. Boyd Holbrook (Quinn McKenna) doesn't convince me as the lead, Olivia Munn (Casey) forces her expressions a lot and Sterling K. Brown (Traeger) can't overcome his flawed script. Trevante Rhodes (Williams) is the only one that actually delivers a good performance. Key is funny because he is Key and not because he is portraying a character, he is just playing himself. The rest of the cast is forgettable, and in a film where almost everything fails, that's just another nail in the coffin.
I don't really have what one can call "pros." I love Shane Black's work, but his direction and screenplay are surprisingly faulty. When I can see what's going on, the action is good, even though it has too many cuts. Some jokes can provide a few chuckles. Basically, that's it. I don't know what to write anymore besides stating that this is a contender for the worst movie of 2018, so far.
All in all, The Predator is just another failure of the franchise. When even a remarkable director and screenwriter as Shane Black suddenly turns out to be uncommonly bad, that's the number one proof that 20th Century Fox should drop the saga once and for all. The team-up of wretched cinematography and choppy editing brings every action sequence down, and the story is so boring and character-less that I felt desperate for a second of entertainment. I didn't get it, and the cast didn't put that much effort to try and save this disaster. One of the worst films of the year. What else to expect?