The creature called the Predator has been one of my favorite designed monsters from the last forty years of movies. It has forced me to watch five films, two of which I really love – Predator (1987) and Predator 2 (1990) – with the others falling very flat. This sixth entry, The Predator (2018), had tons of promise, primarily because I’ve been a huge fan of the director, Shane Black. The Nice Guys (2016), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), and his writing credit on Lethal Weapon (1987) are all films that I adore. Unfortunately, Black has created a film that seems as if it wants to be the advocate for Asperger’s Syndrome while also being a comedy that features some extremely over-the-top dialogue, all while showcasing the next evolution of its titular monster…and as a whole, it doesn’t work.
The Predator is the worst Shane Black directed film to date.
Military sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) witnesses the arrival of an alien ship as it crash lands in the middle of an operation he was on. Following the crash, he finds the Predator’s helmet and gauntlet while managing to escape the creature’s attack. To protect himself from what he foresees coming, he sends the helmet and gauntlet to his P.O. Box. The world around him soon changes, as he’s thrust into a government led organization who knows all about the Predator.
McKenna teams up with other “loonies” consisting of Nebraska (Trevante Rhodes), Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key), Baxley (Thomas Jane), Lynch (Alfie Allen), and Nettles (Augusto Aguilera). For some reason, they’re all on a bus being sent to a medical lock-up of some sort for varying reasons. Fortunately for McKenna – despite their many idiosyncrasies ranging from suicidal attempts to Tourette syndrome – all of them are expert military personnel. While they initially doubt his story of aliens, it’s not long before they see the Predator for themselves. It’s after they rescue biologist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn), who had been brought in by the government to investigate the alien (and now that very government wants her killed…I’m not really sure why), that McKenna realizes the danger he has put his family in.
His son, Rory (Jacob Tremblay), who has Asperger’s – which is introduced in a very clunky bullying sequence earlier in the film – has been playing with the creature’s helmet and gauntlet. McKenna and his team rush to try and find the gear before the creature does. Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), the head of the government organization, isn’t far behind. However, none of them knew that the real threat was the other creature pursuing the first Predator.
Does the film sound like a mess yet? I think I’ve managed to untangle the various plotlines and center it around one. Black seems to be oblivious or unmoved by the modern standards of political correctness. The way Shane Black treats mental illness or disabilities in this movie is as simple character tics, no more significant than chain smoking or slicking one’s hair back. Though there is a lot of eye-rolling dialogue and sheer stupidity in The Predator, the film definitely has a “B-movie” quality to it, with performances to match that make it at least laughably bad.
There are enough Predator moments to make the movie not entirely stomach-churning nonsense. Still, Black’s The Predator is definitely not the movie I’d gone in expecting. It’s messy, stupid, and tonally inconsistent at times to boot. In the end, the film earns the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.