The Predator - Review

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In 2018, the prospect of directing big studio action films must be daunting. As major directors turn to drama and more independent means to create their work, the once sturdy action genre has been left flailing. 2018 has more to show than past years, though, with Mission Impossible: Fallout, easily the best action film of the year. A property like Predator seems perfectly poised to dethrone the lengthy Mission Impossible franchise, but this is a very poor excuse for an action movie.

The Predator begins with our hero, played by Boyd Holbrook, preparing to take out a target somewhere in the jungle. His mission goes awry when a massive Predator spaceship appears out of nowhere, crashing nearby. The alien gets out and begins picking off soldiers and terrorists one by one, in a mostly entertaining way. On paper, this scene should be a great introduction to the killer, but it is a blunder. When the Predator kills, it doesn’t look any different than if a man had done it. The special effects used to make the Predator real are top notch, but without its fearsome attitude it is reduced to a rabid dog.

Speaking of dogs, what were they thinking with the dogs? Halfway through the film it is discovered that one of the alien dogs the Super Predator brought with it has been made dumb, or lost its desire to kill. The massive, cheap-looking CGI dog appears in several scenes, for what purpose? To help characters out of a pinch? That only happens once. Maybe to show affection, humanizing the Predator? Nope. The purpose of these horrid looking creatures is completely pointless, which reflects mostly on the script. Several random shots of the dog are thrown in, why? The Predator is an ensemble movie, and does a decent job making each character feel distinct, but does nothing to make us care. When Holbrook is chasing the Super Predator’s ship to rescue his son, neither he or his son feel worth saving.

The plot of The Predator is the biggest offender here. The “twist” at the midpoint of the film that reveals a new, stronger Predator sent to find and capture Holbrook’s son, played by the always great Jacob Tremblay, is lacking in punch. This is something Marvel has been doing for years, sending in copies of the protagonist for the hero to fight, and while it gets old very fast, they have always made it feel like a good fight. In The Predator, the Super Predator kills the old one (which is awesome), and then makes the rest of his mission to get away as quick as possible. What? The Predator should be out stalking the humans, not the other way around. Decent performances from Olivia Munn and Jacob Tremblay help, but The Predator is just not written in a way that highlights the strengths of the series.