Warning: vague spoilers for The Predator, including characters deaths and major plot points, lie ahead. (Also, weirdly a small portion of The Meg is discussed.)
If you had no other plans than to stare at your ceiling fan and ponder your own mortality this weekend, boy do I have exciting news for you.
Rounding out a summer of blockbusters that dramatically varied in quality, The Predator, director Shane Black’s multimillion dollar attempt to bring the intergalactic franchise back online, is hitting theaters this Friday. And it’s fine, I guess.
A sequel to the series’ last two sequels, the new installment wastes no time getting its audience caught up on the alien hunting people for sport premise. (This movie isn’t exclusively geared towards longtime fans, but you’ll get it better if you’ve seen, at the very least, the 1987 original.)
In an effort to reach its handful of big payoffs and springboard a possible trilogy, the film blasts through a paper thin premise with the most shallow characters since Gossip Girl.
Mostly cheap thrills and green goo, The Predator is projected to score a hefty box office this weekend. Here’s everything you need to take into account when pondering a ticket purchase—excluding controversy surrounding the removal of a scene involving a registered sex offender. (Details on that here.)
The plot is simple, stupid, and effective
Remember The Incredibles “Honey, where is my supersuit?” scene? Turns out that’s basically the premise of The Predator.
In short, a predator crash lands on Earth (he’s trying to help mankind by the way, more on that later) and a soldier steals some of his equipment as proof of the alien sighting. This doesn’t thrill the predator… so he starts hunting down that soldier and his equipment, of course.
“Don’t touch things that don’t belong to you.”
This leads to a rag-tag group of operatives banding together to help out that soldier and protect the Earth from the monster now wandering its streets.
Also, there’s a jerky scientist guy involved. He just sort of sucks.
Overall, the fairly simple premise makes things enjoyable in the same campy fashion as the 80’s original. It’s pretty dumb, but the “don’t touch things that don’t belong to you” moral helps give the movie’s events some sense of direction without getting too self-aggrandizing.
If you liked The Meg, The Predator might be for you
Plot twist: as a result of some space politics not really worth getting into, a larger, second predator shows up midway through the film. Yes! Like the even bigger megalodon of The Meg! What a summer.
Evidently, the first predator was trying to save humans from extinction by providing Earth with some very high tech. The second predator doesn’t love that. P2 calls P1 a traitor and then rips him apart like a potato chip bag. It’s a hoot.
The Russian nesting dolls of predators stops at two, but is genuinely super fun upon first discovery. Nothing says, “oh shit” quite like watching your supposed antagonist get dwarfed by his big brother.
This movie has a way better cast than it deserves
When you have The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Yvonne Strahovski kind of just hanging out in the background, you know you’ve hit the jackpot.
The Predator has some great actors. Our aforementioned rag-tag crew includes Moonlight‘s Trevante Rhodes, Game of Thrones Alfie Allen, The Daily Show‘s Olivia Munn, Key & Peele‘s Keegan-Michael Key, and Narcos‘ Boyd Holbrook, among others.
Plus, you’ve got This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown and acting protégé Jacob Tremblay of Room.
Less a movie cast and more an expensive corral of livestock, The Predator‘s actors are literally and metaphorically mauled by the film’s events. Luckily, the lack of emotional grounding makes their deaths more palatable.
Things get laughably disgusting
With that lack of emotional impact in mind, you should definitely be prepared for The Predator to get comically gross.
Not even John Mulaney could get those kinds of laughs.
To wit, at one point during the film’s climax a major character is trying to help save Jacob Tremblay from being kidnapped by the predator. This leads to his standing atop a moving spacecraft while its alien pilot attempts to shake him off. When a forcefield forms around the ship, an energy beam (or whatever) gruesomely cuts off this character’s legs and sends the rest of his body hurdling towards Earth.
The howling laughter that emerged from my theater upon viewing this monstrosity was so loud that it made the film’s other characters’ exaggerated grieving almost inaudible. Seriously. Not even John Mulaney could get those kinds of laughs.
Jacob Tremblay’s plot line could be fantastic, but isn’t
My one major complaint with The Predator is that it had something so good and then just didn’t do it justice.
Tremblay’s character, Rory, is our main protagonist’s son, a young boy who happens to be on the spectrum. Early on in the story we discover Rory has a knack for operating alien technology. (In one hilarious scene, he accidentally uses a predator helmet to blow up a house.)
Supported by IRL psychological theory, the narrative leads to the predator identifying Rory’s abilities as the next major improvement in the evolutionary chain. Consequently, it wants to take him captive and harvest his genetic code.
Unfortunately, this inclusive and clever storyline is shoehorned in at the last possible moment and given far less attention than it deserves. Here’s hoping someone someday approaches the same concept and actually explores its possibilities.
TL;DR The Predator is idiotic fodder for a slow day
If someone asks you to go see this movie, you should probably say yes. All in all, The Predator is a “meh” movie, but also a totally adequate way to kill a few hours this weekend. You won’t remember it beyond next week and it certainly isn’t worth the money you could be spending on A Simple Favor. But also… aliens. I get it.
The Predator hits theaters Friday, September 14.