The Predator

The Predator (2018) Director: Shane Black

★☆☆☆☆

The Predator is another boring, widely-panned, hackjob of the Predator series. I only watched this unfathomably stupid and lazy movie to complete my goal of watching all the films in this series. The plot is empty, the dialogue is cheap and rife with cliche, the score is uninspiring, the acting is mediocre, the backroom editing seems to have entirely cut crucial scenes and dialogue, and the special effects look like they are re-hashed from a forgettable 1990s syndicated television show. Apparently The Predator was a complete mess from the start, with a shoddy script forcing unnecessary one-liners in nearly every scene, and featuring a checklist of stereotypically one-dimensional characters. For a science fiction horror film, The Predator lacks tension, believability, and above all a fearsome enemy -and to top it all off the director mistakenly hired a convicted sex offender -a real predator- whose role needed to be cut out of the film completely when it was discovered by lead actress Olivia Munn (however Director Shane Black initially defended his choice even amidst widespread condemnation). Despite fans of the franchise’s excitement when Shane Black was originally announced as Director (he appeared as a minor character in the original Predator) upon release this film found itself caught somewhere between a complete travesty and a really bad joke.

The crux of the movie relies upon a flaw in the U.S. Post Office bureaucracy -a far cry from the 1980s ‘shoot ’em up’ jungle brawl that was the original Predator movie. An army ranger named Quinn McKenna (played by Boyd Holbrook) happens upon a crash-landed predator ship and he escapes with some of its armor. Then some additional troops move in and capture the predator (somehow, it is not explained). Quinn sends the armor to his personal P.O. Box for some reason, but the package is then redirected to his wife’s home anyway because Quinn has failed to pay his P.O. Box fees. The package is given to his autistic son for some reason (the boy’s autism is suspiciously portrayed as a super-human hero trope). The boy then accidentally summons an even larger predator using the gear. There is a strange scene at a supposedly high security facility in which the now-captured predator from the beginning easily escapes, and an evolutionary biologist named Casey Brackett (played by Olivia Munn) is left naked in a decontamination section, but the predator slowly stalks her, but then inexplicably and anticlimactically leaves her alone. She then accidentally shoots herself in the foot –in a crude parody of this film’s many failures– while chasing after the predator, and soon we see the predator battle an even larger “super-predator” which has been tracking him. For some reason the predator almost never uses its cloaking abilities that once made the creature seem so mysterious and terrifying in the original film.

Anyway, Quinn’s son goes out trick-or-treating and accidentally blows up a house with people inside, killing them all when using the predator armor (the scene is never addressed again and the boy casually walks away). As the plot continues in its haphazard decline, we learn that the alien predators are essentially invading earth because of climate change, and since the warming planet will make life uninhabitable for future generations, the predators are trying to steal as much human DNA as possible (though this does not explain why the predators are continuing to slaughter humans en masse). It ends with a string of silly, slapstick violence. People are randomly decapitated, or otherwise disemboweled, until the predator is accidentally killed in an explosion (idiotic mistakes are the only things that drive this plot forward) and then the poorly CGI-constructed “super-predator” accidentally shoots itself, as well. Just as Quinn walks up to the dying creature he poses a question, but before the “super-predator” can respond Quinn shoots it in the head multiple times anyway. Thus ends one of the worst movies of the 2010s. Oh, and the writers decided to continue to exploit Quinn’s son and his autism by appointing him the world’s “foremost expert on cybernetics” at the end. What a ridiculously unsatisfying end to this colossal mess of a film.

The original Predator was an intense ’80s horror flick, but this film is just a frivolous comedy of errors. It deals with everything from the yawning internal complexities of the U.S. Post Office, to the exploitation of children on the autistic spectrum –and each major character is either accidentally injured or else killed by pure incompetence. The only reason to watch this movie is for the laughs. How do these kinds of movies keep slipping through the cracks in Hollywood?

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