I hate to be cliché, but the science-fiction action hybrid “The Predator” delivers in virtually every department, with thanks to the kinetic in-your-face direction of writer-director Shane Black.
For those who might remember, Black had a small role in director John McTiernan’s 1987’s action opus “Predator.” His part was that of Hawkins, who meets his demise early in the story. He was part of Dutch’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger) team fighting a camouflaged alien in the jungle of a foreign land.
Just like the silly “Alien vs. Predator” entries in 2004 and 2007, death is taken with a grain of salt. Nothing more and nothing less. With Black’s current incarnation, any notion of being taken too seriously is abandoned early on.
In 2010 the studios, and more specifically filmmaker/producer Robert Rodriguez, tried to make a serious movie with director Nimród Antal taking the franchise in a different direction. It didn’t work, so the idea of putting Oscar-winner Adrien Brody in the role of an action hero blew up in the studio’s face. The story took place on a foreign planet, one that existed in another reality altogether, not in modern day America.
Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), as a returning soldier, is at the center of the story. He sends himself alien artifacts he found overseas.
McKenna is paired with a busload of misfit soldiers, including Baxley (Thomas Jane), a soldier with a coarse vocabulary who suffers from Tourette syndrome. It is amusing, but highly inappropriate.
Also on the bus are Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key), a close friend of Baxley’s, Nebraska (Trevente Rhodes), Lynch (Alfie Allen) and Nettles (Augusto Aguilera). Along the way, they pick up Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn), who witnessed firsthand what the predator can do. She comments that calling it “The Predator” is a misnomer because it is another entity altogether.
Jacob Tremblay is solid as Rory McKenna, a disabled child who opens up when anything to do with math is involved. His character is constantly bullied at school. When he finally sticks up for himself on a trick-or-treat rendezvous, the encounters with bullies cease.
In a twist of irony, Jake Busey appears as a scientist investigating some predator artifacts. His father, Gary, appeared in “Predator 2” as a scientist named Peter Keyes who meets an untimely demise.
Black is an exceptional director, as well as writer, having dipped his hands in the Marvel Universe with “Iron Man 3” in 2013. He also did a great job with 2016’s “Nice Guys” with the powerhouse teaming of Oscar-winner Russell Crowe and Oscar-nominee Ryan Gosling. The pair shared great on-screen chemistry that looked and felt genuine.
“The Predator” is a must-see on the big screen because the scope of the movie is larger than life. I would recommend seeing it when it goes to the discount houses, because it’s not necessarily worth the $10-plus admission charge.