The movie industry is slowly being ruined by a complete lack of original ideas and this reboot of the 80s science fiction horror franchise would just be a soulless nostalgia party.
“The Predator” was mostly devoid of substance — any attempts at having a message were awkward and misplaced. At times, it seemed that the screenwriters, including Shane Black, who directed the modern rendition and played a minor role in the 1987 original “Predator,” were making up the story as they went along. Thanks to a charming cast, some fun dialogue and action, however, the movie is saved from being unbearable to watch.
The film follows Army Ranger sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), whose team is attacked by a crash-landed predator while on a mission. McKenna is the only one from his team to escape alive, managing to grab some of the Predator’s gear. He mails the Predator’s mask and some armor off to a P.O. Box before being tracked back down by the government, who brings him in for questioning about what he saw.
McKenna ends up on a bus with Therapy Group 2, a colorful band of self-described “loonies,” all former soldiers who are mostly suffering from some form of PTSD. The loonies make their escape on the bus when a Predator attacks the military base they are on. They must work as a team to retrieve the Predator’s gear, which McKenna stole and is currently in the hands of his autistic son, Rory (Jacob Tremblay). The first half of the film is a solidly fun adventure, but by the second half not only did things become confusing and hard to keep track of, but the CGI has become noticeably worse.
The cast is a charming group for the most part, and their banter is mostly humorous. McKenna is a solid and relatable leading man, Keegan-Michael Key provides ample comic relief as the motor-mouthed Coyle and Trevante Rhodes (of Moonlight fame) is excellent as ex-Marine Nebraska Jones. Jacob Tremblay continues to prove himself to be the best child actor around with his nuanced performance as Rory.
Despite some characters’ strengths, others appear to have nothing at all going for them. Alfie Allen’s Lynch is the most glaring example, being a member of the team for the entire movie and exhibiting maybe one distinct personality trait during that time. The movie’s women are a bit underserved as well; Olivia Munn, who plays a scientist, is an interesting addition to the group at first but is ultimately reduced to just another person with a gun by the end of the film, and Yvonne Strahovski as McKenna’s estranged wife shows some signs of strength, but ultimately isn’t given the time or circumstances to prove herself as a character.
Another issue with the film as a whole is the figurative and literal monster, the Predator itself. They build up the main Predator to be stronger than ever before, using other species’ DNA to genetically engineer itself to be as strong as possible, but it’s ultimately no different than Predators from any of the previous films, besides its increased height. Don’t get me wrong — the creature is still a cool monster, but I’d like to see something new from it.
The movie is at its best when it’s not trying too hard to be smart. Its attempts at exposition and explanation are vague and confusing, with global warming, evolution and genetic engineering all being terms thrown about without much clarity. It’s at its most enjoyable when it’s not trying to say anything, not trying to be anything more than what it is: a movie about a bunch of guys killing aliens and making quips at each other. If the filmmakers had been willing to stay in their lane on this one, this would have been a solidly entertaining action flick. But, due to them trying a bit too hard to be fancy and the sloppy second half, this film is just another reboot that doesn’t understand why people enjoyed the original.