In theory, a reboot of The Predator with Shane Black’s involvement sounds interesting. Black, who had a minor role in the Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring original film, has spent the past three decades writing and, more recently, directing films that mix action with a pointed sense of humor. His Iron Man 3 is one of the better vehicles for its titular character, and The Nice Guys was one of the best movies of 2016. Plus, Black is responsible for the screenplay for another 80s classic, Lethal Weapon. So surely he could bring something interesting to a franchise that’s been in need of something solid since that first film, right?
After Army Ranger Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) survives an encounter with a Predator, he’s taken into military custody by Traegar (Sterling K. Brown) in order to keep him quiet, but not before Quinn sends proof of his experience home. To find out more about the Predator, Traegar enlists Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn), a science teacher who specializes in biology. Meanwhile, Quinn’s son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) opens the package his father sent home and inadvertently triggers both the Predator and other Predators to his location. When Quinn is able to escape custody, he teams up with a crew of former military personnel to save his son and fight both the Predator and Traegar.
That description of the plot doesn’t quite encapsulate everything that’s going on with this movie, which is part of the problem. In spite of a relatively short running time, there’s a lot going on here – too much, honestly. I appreciate the film having different plots going on that eventually come together in different ways, but the film jumps around so much, the leaps of logic involved here start to become apparent. I don’t know if extra time might have helped, or if this would be a problem regardless. Either way, what we have here doesn’t work.
It’s a shame, too, because there’s a talented cast here who are all trying. Holbrook is fine as the film’s lead, though it helps him that his supporting cast is stacked with great performers. The biggest standout is Brown, who absolutely chews the scenery whenever his Traegar is on-screen. There’s no question from his performance that Traegar isn’t someone to be trusted, but he’s the kind of character audiences still are going to want to watch because he revels in being amoral.
If we’re excluding the Alien vs. Predator films (which I do for both series that includes), The Predator is the fourth film in this series, and while each film since the first has tried to do something to extend this franchise, none of them have been able to come close to what that first film did. I give Black credit for trying to find something a little different for the series while still retaining some of the 80s flavor of the original, and the end he’s created is certainly aiming for new territory for the series going forward. At this point, though, one has to wonder if this IP would’ve been better served as a one-and-done feature.