The Predator is one of the stranger movie disappointments of 2018. It’s stupid, but not in fun way.
Director Shane Black didn’t have much of a bar to clear in revisiting the Predator franchise. The jungle-set original was an ‘80s classic, one that found Arnold Schwarzenegger hunted by a trophy-loving alien. Over the next 30 years, the franchise’s warrior-baddies have taken on LA ganglords (Predator 2), a few Xenomorphs from Alien (Alien vs. Predator), and Danny Trejo (Predators). None of those sequels were especially mind-blowing, but they each had a few moments of shady fun. The hope was that Black—who’s skilled at funny banter and creature thrills (The Monster Squad)—could at least bring life to a series that felt largely uncared for in recent years. Nope.
Instead, The Predator is the kind of movie Black’s other movie characters might make fun of. It begins with an alien ship landing in the jungles of Earth, and following some on-the-ground bloodbaths, a renegade sniper (Logan’s Boyd Holbrook) picks up some spare Predator gear, which he ships back home to the United States. Soon, multiple Predators are loose in the suburbs. The protagonists include biologist (Olivia Munn) and a group of gung-ho character tropes their various tics may as well be their names: There’s a Guy Who Smokes a Lot; a Guy Who Makes Bad Jokes; and Guy Who Chews Nicorette and Yells a Lot.
If The Predator was merely a dumb movie about dumb people, it would be forgivable, but Black’s movie is another example of the problems with 21st-century corporate filmmaking, the need for the franchise taking priority over the viewers enjoyment.
Ultimately, The Predator is done in by the same trait that made Fantastic Four and Justice League such cinematic cash-grabs of the shared universe age. No interest in its characters nor the world they inhabit; they’re simply quip-dispensers that shoot stuff. It leaves you with only one question: who cares?