Director Shane Black is eager to address why anyone should pay to watch yet another foray into the ‘Predator’ franchise and wastes no time to jump into the thick of the action. He grabs your attention from the opening frames and doesn’t let go till the very end. The pace moves at a breakneck speed, and even the necessary exposition has a thick layer of humour slathered on it. This is prominent when we meet the bunch of ‘new age’ macho men led by Boyd Holbrook as Quinn McKenna. Keegan-Michael Key is far from the solitary comic relief; the film’s quirky tonality allows the rest of the cast including Thomas Jane, Trevante Rhodes, Alfie Allen and Sterling K. Brown to express their comedic range, and they all appear to enjoy it immensely. Olivia Munn as evolutionary biologist Dr Casey Bracket has little science, and a lot more gun-toting to do. Jacob Tremblay continues to build an impressive resume of playing challenging roles as a child actor.
The problem with Shane Black’s tonal approach is that the overtly masculine humour comes with a tinge of misogyny that feels exceptionally outdated in 2018. Sure, it can be argued that this ragtag bunch of ex-soldiers are mentally unstable, so it’s a far stretch to expect them to be politically correct under the circumstances. But the constant barrage of jokes doesn’t always work, especially when we’re supposed to feel a sense of terror for the looming ‘Predators’ and the mayhem they bring. This becomes a problem when more serious consequences occur after all the blistering fight sequences. Make no mistake though – ‘The Predator’ pulls no punches and lays it all bare when the bullets and limbs go flying in quick succession.
This keeps you glued to the story as it unfolds even though the plot is riddled with holes, often asking more questions than it answers. Re-shoots are glaringly obvious especially as the disjointed climax ends up being a whole different narrative beast. Director & co-writer Shane Black seems more keen to reclaim the magic of 1987’s ‘Predator’ than tell a strong, self-contained story in itself. Whether it is enough to ensure the next chapter in the franchise is yet to be seen – depending on whether you choose to spend on a ticket for this one. Rest assured that if you’re looking to revisit the testosterone-fuelled grandiosity of the 80’s, this is the closest you’ll get to it.