A disjointed mess that might only please the most hardcore of fans.
The Predator falls upon its own sword with an unremarkable mix of story and characters that make it yet another forgettable film in a troublesome cash grabbing franchise. Though the film comes with a significant update in visual graphics and creature design, there’s not much else in terms of genuine action substance to take away. At best, The Predator is barely passable as a franchise sequel to one of the greatest action films ever made.
Surprisingly, both films from the 1987 classic Predator and this mildly interesting 2018 addition were written by the same person, Shane Black. Known for his witty crime comedies Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys, I was quite disappointed that the clever writing from those films was almost non-existent in The Predator.
One of the best aspects of Shane Black’s films is the dialogue, which often oozes comedic wit and punchy one-liners; aspects that elevated the original Predator as a sci-fi action masterpiece. Yet with the characters in The Predator, I’d be hard-pressed to remark anything that was either cleverly funny or remotely memorable that stuck with me like the quotes from the original. Instead, there’s a lot more unnecessary swearing, strange jokes that feel out of place and moments of little logic that made me question why they were talking like that.
Which is a feeling that echoed for me in terms of presentation, because The Predator nears the editing mess that was the horrendous Slender Man. While a story exists (and I’m tempted to add quotation marks to the word story), there are several examples that made the film feel like it was quickly rushed and put together without no thought to set up or punchline.
Certain characters aren’t given much time for introductions and fiery moments of action are edited with such a fast pace that it feels more blistering than a Jason Bourne movie. The latter also being heavily affected by the narrative choice to set most of the film at night, with darker environments that make quicker cuts of action harder to ascertain exactly what’s going on. Compare this to the original which was mostly set during the day, any quick cuts don’t affect understanding who or what is being attacked because well, you can actually see things easier to begin with. It’s something simple but to me, editing is the first sign of what makes a great action film better than a bad one.
Aspects like these irked me for the large portion of the film and it was quite tough to overlook them despite my feelings towards the few positives that I had. Some jokes and moments of action do hit their mark in terms of both entertainment and spectacle. As are certain plot points in the story that not only felt original and enjoyable to watch, also helped continue the mythology of the Predator franchise in an interesting way. These moments were far and few between, but when the film does get them right, it’s a pleasant joy of relief to watch amongst the disjointed mess around it.
Unfortunately, I can’t recommend paying top dollar to watch The Predator at the cinemas because the previously mentioned negatives really do drag this film down for me. My expectations were somewhat higher for a Hollywood action-film sequel given the news that Shane Black was not only writing but also directing and to my surprise, it still turned out to be disappointing.
Perhaps the film was riddled with studio interventions with re-shoots that apparently show different aspects for what the original plot could have been (see these on Google for yourself without spoiling anything). But at the end of the day, a film must be judged on what was released in the final version and until there comes a potential director’s cut, The Predator is a mess of a film that doesn’t live up to the classic by a long stretch.