Can we ever get enough of Predator? Apparently not, since there have been numerous sequels, reboots, re-imaginings and spinoffs (Alien vs. Predator, anyone?) since the original 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie that started it all.
Now, 31 years later, director Shane Black — who co-wrote the script with Fred Dekker — is taking a crack at bringing it all back to glory in The Predator. As I say in my video review above, Black might be getting a bit of revenge with this one as he was just an actor in the first film, playing Hawkins and getting turned inside out to become the Predator’s first movie victim. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and Black is coming up with novel ways to deal with this planet-hopping alien hunter who didn’t treat his own character too kindly.
His answer is to make a much more vivid, in-your-face take on the series. The original teased us with glimpses of the uber-ugly creature almost to the end, but never as directly as this one does right from the beginning when an alien spacecraft crashes on Earth. We get action right away, as mercenary Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), on his way to prison, seizes the opportunity to grab a device and Predator mask from the wreckage that perhaps hold the key to this badass thing. He knows he somehow has to get it back to civilization, so he sends it in a box to his home address, where his estranged family lives. They include young son Rory (Jacob Tremblay), who is on the autism spectrum and thinks it is some sort of cool toy his deadbeat dad has sent. With Halloween approaching, Rory just got the perfect costume, and you can imagine where this might lead.
Meanwhile, government scientists are examining the body of the apparently dead Predator in their lab called Stargazer, which is run by shady guy Traeger (Sterling K. Brown, in a change of pace from This Is Us). All hell breaks loose as another Predator takes over, and now McKenna and his band of misfits known as “Loonies” must come to the hunt and stop the ravaging monsters in their tracks. Black mines lots of humor from this ragtag bunch — a sort of “Dirty Half-Dozen,” as they are referred to — as soon as they come into the picture. Keegan Michael-Key, Augusta Aguilera, Alfie Allen, Thomas Jane and Trevante Rhodes are the actors who seem to be improvising their lines and look like they could be straight out of a Monty Python routine. Each plays a version of a damaged warrior dealing with the aftereffects of battles in their military pasts. Into this mix is the obligatory female character, but thankfully not as the usual love interest, in evolutionary biologist Dr. Casey Brackett (Olivia Munn), who has ideas of her own how to deal with all of this mayhem, which builds into a crescendo and battle of all battles before it is all done.
Among the rest of the supporting cast is Jake Busey who, in a tip of the hat to the original series and Predator 2, plays Dr. Sean Keyes, son of Dr. Peter Keyes, who was played by his father, Gary Busey. Brian Prince hits his marks as the actual Predator and, at 6-foot-9, fits the costume nicely. Special effects are aces, and Black — who created the Lethal Weapon film series and directed Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang — knows instinctively how to make this all play as effortless, cheesy, old-fashioned fun that doesn’t take itself seriously for one minute. Producers are John Davis and Lawrence Gordon. 20th Century Fox starts the hunt for grosses Friday.
Do you plan to see The Predator? Let us know what you think.
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