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article imageReview: ‘The Predator’s only problem isn’t its name Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 14, 2018 in Entertainment
‘The Predator’ is a sequel to the pre-Alien crossover films and attempts to refresh the franchise, but is only semi-successful.
There is a prevailing sentiment that any contact with an alien race will be generally unfriendly and probably violent. The expectation is that there will be no interest in making peace or sharing knowledge; instead, there will be a war over resources and in spite of advanced alien technology, humans will prove triumphant via their sheer will to survive. One can only hope that if there is intelligent life out there, they don’t access our entertainment and judge our species inhospitable. Thirty years ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in a movie about a space warrior that came to Earth to earn his stripes. More have come since and now they’re back in The Predator.
Quinn McKenna’s (Boyd Holbrook) covert operation in Mexico is compromised by the crash landing of an alien spacecraft that also results in the murder of the other two men in his unit. Feeling owed for his troubles, he takes a couple of souvenirs from the ship, which he posts home before being detained by the military police and implicated in a cover-up. In the meantime, biologist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) is recruited to help government scientists determine exactly what kind of extraterrestrial they’ve captured. While McKenna and five other mentally unstable soldiers are being transported to another facility, the creature escapes and starts to make a B-line to recover his armour from McKenna’s home, where his estranged wife (Yvonne Strahovski) and afflicted son (Jacob Tremblay) live.
One of the elements that made the first film so great was its limitations that simply pit a group of soldiers in the jungle against an alien hunter with no external assistance or interference. Conversely, this narrative tries to squeeze in multiple characters and complications that dilute the essence of the film – to the extent that there is very little action even involving the Predator. From the government’s science division, led by Sterling K. Brown, trying to eliminate everyone who’s become aware of the extraterrestrial’s existence to Casey trying to decipher their genome secrets to McKenna and his new friends attempting to stop the space invaders to McKenna’s son having a strange capacity for their technology, there is just too much happening. Had they eliminated the additional military threat along with the science bits and just kept the six army rejects and possibly McKenna’s son in the game, it would have been tighter and more compelling.
Moreover, those two elements that work actually generate the most entertainment in the film. McKenna’s new comrades, played by Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera and Trevante Rhodes, are an amusing group of guys with their own flaws – but they’re still equipped with the training they need to survive against such a threat. The only scene that would be sadly lost is their awkward but hilarious introduction to Casey as she wakes up in a motel room with a group of strange men staring at her. Nonetheless, there’s a fair amount of humour in the film, which works well because of the nature of the characters. The one other element director Shane Black does have fun with is the definition of “predator” and how inappropriate it is for this species.
The introduction of a couple of new Predator species is an attempt to refresh the franchise, which based on this conclusion will be taken even further in the next sequel. Although they’re interesting, it still feels like they’re underutilized. There’s a formula that works for these movies and they’ve put it aside for something too complex for its own good.
Director: Shane Black
Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes and Jacob Tremblay
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