When a Predator crash lands on Earth, the US Government seizes the opportunity to study the alien hunter and his technology. But they're not the only ones looking for him. It seems that the Predators have been combining their DNA with that of their prey, and the result of that research is on his way here. Our only hope against this new threat comes in the form of a group of PTSD suffering veterans known as the "Loonies", an evolutionary biologist and a little boy with asperger's.
Shane Black, the writer/director behind The Nice Guys, Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has had a go at re-vamping the Predator franchise. And thank fuck the studio execs didn't want to aim for a 12 rating! Can you imagine the guy who played Hawkins in Predator, the guy who made all of those bad pussy jokes directing a 12 rated Predator movie? Look at what that did to Die Hard! Although Die Hard 4.0 sucked anyway. Don't worry, The Predator isn't anywhere near the level of Die Hard 4.0 or the abysmal A Good Day to Die Hard. In fact, I'd say this is the best Predator movie since the original. In terms of style, it's somewhere between Predator and Predator 2. Setting it in the suburbs means you get a blend of rural and urban environments in which the Predators cause carnage. The action scenes are exciting and well put together, it appears that as many visual effects as possible have been created practically. The Predator definitely lives up to its predecessors, but where they played it very seriously, and thanks to Shane Black's influence this one has a lighter side.
This being a Shane Black movie means we should expect some interesting characters and hilarious dialogue. What else do you watch a Shane Black movie for? No surprises then that this time around, the Predators aren't the most interesting characters. With their quirky behaviour and colourful banter, the Loonies are very much the scene stealers. In fact, they're probably the only people crazy enough to go up against a Predator. But as funny as they are, Black and fellow writer Fred Dekker (yes we get it) never make the mistake of mocking their PTSD. Instead, the humour is drawn from the aforementioned quirky behaviour and colourful banter. Something aided by the fact that the Loonies are all perfectly cast, although I would like to have seen more from Alfie Allen. Boyd Holbrook does well as their leader and as a father trying to protect his son, Room's Jacob Tremblay in another great performance. Granted Holbrook is no Schwarzenegger, but he's not trying to be. Black wanted The Predator - much like the original - to be a movie of it's time, and all of the characters fit that bill. Sterling K. Brown embraces his inner arsehole, and has lots of fun doing it in order to play the shady government agent interested in Predator tech. And Olivia Munn more than holds her own in this male dominated cast as the tough yet brilliant scientist brought in to study our alien guest.
Which brings us to the Predators. The movie features two of them. One regular, albeit with some fancy new armour - which means no more fishnet stockings. I don't know if they've improved the mobility within the suit but there's a beautiful scene where our boy goes hand to hand with a room full of heavily armed guards. He even gets to use those fancy mandibles for more than just that winning smile. However, his big brother poses the greater threat, 11 feet tall, smarter, stronger, faster, and thanks to the whole DNA-hybridisation thing he has a few new tricks up his sleeve. I have to admit being worried about the introduction of a CGI Predator, the fact that they have always been played by guys in suits made them feel more real. But I'm pleased to say that apart from a few dodgey shots, he actually looks very real...not to mention formidable.
As much as I enjoyed The Predator, it definitely has its problems. For one thing, the big Predator brings his Predator dogs with him. They look pretty ridiculous, the CGI at times is bad and for some reason one of them starts behaving like a friendly household dog after it's shot in the head. It just got a bit silly. Then there's some of the dialogue, it's meant as a tribute to the original but it's beyond cheesy to the point it's annoying. Jake Busey's appearance, something that was made a big deal of because he's playing the son of his father's character (Peter Keyes) from Predator 2. It's a blink and you'll miss it appearance that adds nothing to the movie. His decent perfomance means something interesting could have been done with the character, instead he's wasted. But the biggest problem by far, was the ending. I'm not talking about the final battle, that was a lot of fun. I mean the final scene which links to the whole reason for the Predator coming to our world in the first place. It was nothing more than a piss poor attempt at setting up a sequel that just felt tacked on. The saving grace is that it isn't revealed until the end, giving it little impact on the movie as a whole.
While not as good as the original, this is definitely the best Predator movie we have had since. Shane Black and Fred Dekker add an interesting lighter side to proceedings, whilst maintaining the action, gore and profanity we've come to expect of this franchise. And despite a few issues it's a fun and exciting experience that gives Tom Hanks' "The Burbs" a run for its money.
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