Movie Review: "The Predator" (2018)
Upon first hearing that there was going to be another film in the Predator franchise, I was as skeptical as everyone was. Could they nail the tone? Would it get a nice, hard R-rating? At this point, could they attract the right cast to truly add to the pantheon? While I will argue that 2010’s Predators is nowhere near as bad as it was panned to be at the time of its release, there’s still a bad taste in many mouths after the two AVP crossovers.
Enter Writer and Director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon/Lethal Weapon 2, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, Monster Squad) and fellow writer Fred Dekker (Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps, Robocop 3). Hearing those 2 names in conjunction got my blood racing. They are pioneers of 80’s horror/action/comedy, and rank among some of the best writers of any generation. Feel free to argue that with me; you’ll be proven wrong.
So, we arrive at 2018’s The Predator.
Deadly sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook, Logan) is on assignment in Mexico when an alien spacecraft carrying a Predator (and some very lethal cargo) crashes and fucks up his mission. After wounding the creature, they’re both taken into custody by a top-secret government operation that has been studying Predators and the increase in the frequency of their visits to Earth. They enlist Dr. Casey Brackett (geek goddess Olivia Munn, X-Men: Apocalypse) to help study it. McKenna, however, has recovered the helmet and gauntlet from the creature and mailed it back home, where it falls into the hands of his autistic son, Rory (Jacob Tremblay, Room). The prodigy activates the technology and alerts an even bigger threat: an 11-foot tall, hybrid, Super Predator made of the traits of all the deadliest hunters of various planets! McKenna and a ragtag group of “Loonies” (ex-soldiers in government custody) escape and set about rescuing his endangered son.
The “Loonies” are comprised of the suicidal Nebraska Williams (Trevante Rhodes, Moonlight), wisecracking psycho Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key, Comedy Central’s Key and Peele), Tourette’s afflicted Baxley (Thomas Jane, The Mist), magic trickster Lynch (Alfie Allen, Theon Greyjoy from HBO’s Game of Thrones), and religious nut Nettles (Augusto Aguilera, ABC Family’s Chasing Life).
Thanks in large part to an all-around fantastic cast including Sterling K. Brown (NBC’s This is Us) as military scumbag Traeger and Jake Busey (Starship Troopers) as quirky scientist Dr. Keyes (as well as those mentioned above), the tone is note-perfect. The military misfits from the original are lovingly echoed and homaged here. There’s plenty of comedy with pinpoint timing, but the brotherhood is firmly in place and grows organically throughout the hour and 41 minutes. You’re even treated to a legit noble death that brought a tear to my eye that I really was not expecting. You wouldn’t expect that in a movie like this.
Still, what would a Predator flick be without a HARD R-rating? Have no fear, boys and girls, this one is seriously R-rated. Keegan-Michael Key alone spills enough bad language and pussy jokes for the whole crowd, then there’s Thomas Jane with that Tourette’s Syndrome…..and really, who doesn’t love Tourette’s jokes? While there’s no nudity (dammit, no naked Munn!) there’s plenty of shit that’s not appropriate for the church crowd.
Then there’s the gore. This is a true Predator film, complete with spinal column rips, dismemberments, head-smashing, and the feasting of live flesh. They’re pulling no punches. I’m a lifelong gorehound, and I was ridiculously pleased with this. Kudos to 20th Century Fox for having the balls to let it be the real deal.
Also, there are Predator dogs. You heard me right….Predator dogs. They’re terrifying and occasionally cute. It’s out-fucking-standing!
The Super Predator is steroid-induced nightmare fuel. There is some CGI, but much of it is practical and brutally physical. The fight scenes are batshit and fun. Explosions are in plentiful supply, and the gunplay is competently done. It’s every bit as much an action film as it is a horror film along with being a solid comedy when it needs to be. That’s due to stellar writing by that aforementioned legendary combo of Black and Dekker (no pun intended). The story beats are perfect, and they echo the original perfectly without being a ripoff. After all, when you have a blueprint like that you should follow it. There are even a couple of beautifully placed callback lines from the original that’ll make you belly laugh.
In short, this is the best film in the Predator franchise since the original. There…I said it. I’ll double down hardcore and say it’s in my personal Top 5 films I’ve seen this year to boot. Strong words in a year full of good films, but I’ll be goddamned if I didn’t have a blast with this one, wearing a goofy grin from ear to ear.
Do I really need to tell you to go see it? What the fuck are you waiting for?