Somehow in the age of studios reviving remnants of the eighties and destroying them with convoluted mythology and narratives, “Predator” has been somewhat spared. Sure, it was involved with the “Alien” series for a bit, but it’s primarily stayed simplistic and true to the original film–unlike the “Terminator” and “Alien” movie series. “The Predator” is a movie that will likely divide fans of the original film and series as a whole; it’s filled with a ton of plot, an array of characters and is somewhat the antithesis of the original film’s more straight forward machismo based narrative. It also dares to expand on the mythos, should Shane Black be given another shot with a sequel.
After one of the predator hunters crash lands on Earth, a soldier and sniper named Quinn comes across the crashed pilot and manages to survive a skirmish with the deadly hunter. Stealing one his gauntlets and mask, he sends the weaponry to his home, which accidentally falls under the possession of his autistic son, Rory. Rory has an aptitude for machines and technology, and accidentally triggers the homing beacon, which sends an even more vicious, larger, more evolved predator to Earth, looking for the lost tech. Meanwhile, a confidential military cabal has taken the downed pilot and ship in hopes of learning its secrets. When the pilot breaks free in search of its lost weaponry, scientist Casey tracks it down hoping to bring it back to the base. When Quinn learns his son is in immense danger, he and a group of convicts break out of jail, and set out to find Rory and save him before he’s killed or abducted.
After being burned by the aforementioned eighties science fiction movie series, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed “The Predator.” I dare say I loved it, mainly for its brisk pacing, and great sense of fun. This is Shane Black and Fred Dekker working together to create some damn good action magic, and I loved how they channeled the 1987 original film, while also carving out new paths for the modern audience. In every conceivable manner, this is a continuation of “Predator,” except these aren’t muscle bound men. While the sense of machismo is still there, Dekker and Black focus more on soldiers that are broken, jaded, or have been spit out by the military. Every single character Quinn comes to bond with are representative of some form of ex-military man, including the soldier with the mental disability (Tom Jane), and others stricken with PTSD, or who merely defied their commanders for the sake of a greater good.
Dekker and Black handle the range of characters beautifully, allowing us to engage and bond with this mismatched ragtag group of impromptu warriors. Not a single character feels under developed or poorly constructed, as all eventually form paths that converge toward saving planet Earth, and working hard to ensure Rory isn’t killed in the middle of this war. Even Olivia Munn shines as one of the film’s heroines, who uses every inch of brains and resources to not only survive confrontations with the predators, but even outlast a lot of her male allies. Every single member of the cast provides top notch performances from Boyd Holbrook, and Keeagan-Michael Key, to Olivia Munn, Tom Jane, and Jacob Tremblay. The latter of whom manages to steal many of the scenes he’s in, and that’s saying a lot for a movie that consists of predator dogs, and a laboratory slaughter scene. As for the titular Predator, they’re as formidable a foe as ever.
Director Black and writer Dekker emphasize their level of power and status, allowing us to realize the inherent terror of the alien hunter, and then exploring the idea of hunting, their purpose for being on Earth, and what happens when they’ve failed. I went right in to “The Predator” not expecting much of anything, but Shane Black and Fred Dekker came out swinging with a new installment of the series that doesn’t just re-visit their formula, but completely re-molds it for a sense of realism that fits right in to the fantastic that unfolds in the climax. I had a great time with this new installment, and I hope if there is a sequel, that we can learn more about Yautja species, and their plans for Earth.