With this latest outing in the Predator franchise, action comedy director Shane Black does his best to cram five different movies into one – with one of those movies being about a Predator wanting to save mankind from global warming or something – and the result is a mess on a biblical scale. I have no doubt that Mr. Black has a three hour cut of this film that probably makes a little more sense than what we find here, but after the studio's heavy cutting and forced reshoots, what little made it to the theaters can barely be considered as having a plot. The final product can only be described as being “One ugly motherfucker.”
The “plot” of this film follows a bunch of army misfits – doing their best imitations of what the cast of Stripes and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest would look like if they were in a monster movie – as they tangle with nasty alien Predators as well as evil shadowy government organizations. The movie’s primary hero is Army sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), whose entire team is wiped out when a Predator crash-lands I'm the middle of a hostage rescue mission in Mexico. Quinn is taken into custody by Will Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), a moustache twirling villain who runs a covert anti-Predator organization called Project Stargazer, and Quinn is shipped off with a bunch of Section Eights to cover up his claims of a Close Encounter, because apparently throwing him in a black site or shooting him in the face were not available options.
If this is your idea of a cover-up, you need to go back to the drawing board.Well, luckily for us, just before Quinn was captured by the “evil military man,” he manages to mail some of the Predator’s armaments back home, where his cute as a bug autistic child Rory (Jacob Tremblay) opens the package. The kid immediately figures out how the alien tech works and decides a Predator helmet and wrist gauntlet would make for a good Halloween costume. I certainly can’t argue with that logic. While all this is going on, Traeger has sent for Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn), an evolutionary biologist who is on some kind of government call list if you need an alien’s DNA analyzed, and she is asked to examine a captured Predator – Quinn left it unconscious after stealing the poor alien's swag – and when the Predator awakes, it proceeds to wipe out much of the staff of Project Stargazer — this is possible because the place is staffed with utter morons. Casey then grabs a tranquilizer rifle and proceeds to chase the alien warrior across the facility's rooftops as if she's Jason Bourne. I shit you not, this actually happens.
“I can take this thing out, I’ve played hours of Destiny on my PS4.”The Predator is 100 minutes of characters running around in the dark shooting at either aliens or each other – with the heroes surviving only because they are in possession of the all-important “Hero Death Exemption" card – and once in a while, the film will take a break from all this action to explain some of the more idiotic plot points that make up this so-called story, stuff that would barely pass the smell test from your average five year-old, and that is certainly not the target demographic of your typical “R” rated movie. The people of Project Stargazer believe that the Predators gather DNA from species that they believe can make them better hunters – thus, we get this whole super-hybrid Predator bad guy for our heroes to fight – but they also believe that the Predators plan on taking over the Earth once we finish making the planet uninhabitable for humans, and for some reason they've also come to the conclusion that the Predator that crashed in on Quinn was bringing a package to help humanity against the “evil” Predators.
How exactly did the people of Project Stargazer come to these startling conclusions? Did we miss a movie where Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum used their Apple laptop to hack the Predator mainframe? In this movie, both heroes and villains pull so much information out of their collective assess that the film should have been called The Prostators.
Quinn should trade that rifle in for a colonoscope.The film does have tons of Shane Black’s trademark banter – Quinn’s team of army misfits providing the bulk of this – but unlike in his previous film, such as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys, we never come to care about any of these asshats, they are just dialogue-spouting joke machines with no other reason for existing. When they get picked off one by one you can almost feel the audience's collective “Who gives a shit” wafting across the theater. Could there be a version of this film out there that works? I’m a big fan of Shane Black so I’d like to think so, but from what I saw last night, I highly doubt any version of this movie would have made any sense; there are just too many plot holes and unexplained character motivations on hand for any of this to work. Now there is a good amount of action – humans versus Predator as well as Predator versus Predator – and much of that is fun to watch, but the overall end product is a vacuous mess of clichés and characters that all add up to a whole lot of nothing. Shane Black's The Predator looked to be trying to expand the universe of the Predators, something the AVP movies tried and failed at, but sadly this expansion falls in on itself like a black hole, where neither light nor intelligibility can escape.
“Please sir, can I have a sequel.”Stray Thoughts:
• The big badass hybrid Predator brings a pair of Predator Dogs to hunt the fugitive Predator, and for some reason being shot in the eye makes one of these alien dogs befriend Olivia Munn.
• Traeger orders one of the Project Stargazer guards to kill Casey and take any contraband she has, but there is no way he’d know she had any contraband on her, and killing the person you just hired to study Predator DNA seems rather stupid and pointless.
• The big badass hybrid Predator is basically invulnerable to small arms fire, which makes the fights with him long and mostly pointless.
• The big badass hybrid Predator brutally murders every person it encounters, unless that person is Quinn or Casey, then he just smacks them aside, leaving them alive and virtually unharmed.
• Rory has what I call “Super Autism” which is a form of autism that Hollywood devised to allow characters to solve any problem as if by magic.
• Even if Rory’s autism allowed him to figure out Predator language and tech, it still wouldn’t allow him to know passcodes to enter alien ships. That’s as if learning German would mean you could sneak into the Mercedes headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.
• The big badass hybrid Predator wants Rory’s DNA because apparently autism is humanity's next evolutionary step, though I’m not sure how Rory’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and inability to handle loud noises, would be much help on a hunt.
• With the help of Rory, the villainous Traeger finds the crashed Predator ship, and then magically constructs a camp and electrified perimeter fence in minutes.
• Casey is able to magically teleport herself to the location of the final fight, even though Quinn and the Predator ship would have crashed miles away from her. Basically, there is a whole lot of magic going on in this science fiction film.