When you think of a Shane Black movie, chances are that the first two things to come to mind are snappy dialogue and entertaining action set pieces. Combined with a return to the franchise that helped cut Black’s teeth as an actor, the potential for a Predator sequel/reboot with him at the helm was music to a lot of people’s ears – myself included.
Reality has had other plans however, and after multiple reshoots, questionable casting choices and the cutting of an entire plotline, The Predator finally arrives in cinemas. Unfortunately, it might not have been worth all the bother in the end.
It’s hard to say what exactly happens in The Predator, and I only left the auditorium about an hour ago. The best way to describe this film is a series of bits, joined together by moments of explosions and human viscera flying around the screen. There’s also a boy with Aspergers who can read Predatorish, comedy alien dogs that vomit grenades and, least convincingly of all, Olivia Munn as a professor of astronomy.
All of this seems to be taking place in the middle of the night, and the film is so dark that it’s almost impossible to see what is going on at any one time. There’s one moment where one of the dreadlocked nasties is meant to grow an exoskeleton, and I for one couldn’t make out any change in its physiology whatsoever.
Being so dark that your audience can’t make out important developments is one thing, but the bold decision to pass this to an editor’s room with seemingly naught but cocaine to keep the editors occupied is inspired. The number of camera cuts throughout the film is on par with your average episode of American Horror Story and it completely detracts from any planned effect of shock or horror.
The writing too is on a whole new level of terrible for the Predator franchise. Not only is there a weird fixation on mental illnesses – the previously mentioned boy living with Aspergers and a running joke about Tourettes starts poorly gets worse from there – but there are some really questionable choices with some sequences.
One scene in particular involves Olivia Munn needing to get undressed after the Predator is unleashed, superficially for decontamination but in truth it serves no purpose than to get Olivia Munn naked. In any other movie it’d be a contentious point, but after the news of Black casting a registered sex offender in the movie it throws up some really uncomfortable questions.
Out of everyone in this movie, Munn will come out of The Predator the least scathed. No character in this film is at all sympathetic, and despite the film trying to imprint personalities on each one of its alien targets, the one prevailing characteristic I could get from anyone is that they all really enjoy using the F word.
Worst of all though, the end product that is The Predator is simply boring. There are glimmers of a more interesting film hiding underneath the surface, and as mentioned before there are stories that suggest this may very well be the case. What we’ve ended up with is a film that is essentially a lame rehash of the 1987 original – poor attempts at fan service included.
For a monster that should be intimidating and fundamentally fun to watch do its thing on screen, the Predator deserves a much better outing than this. If The Predator is an indication of where the franchise stands currently, it may be time for the old chap to hang up his armour.