“The Predator”

A quiet roar


“The Predator” has been a well-established action icon for a few decades with varying degrees of success. Like its distant cousin, “Alien,” it is now trying its damndest to update the formula that made it a franchise. Sadly, the update is kind of timid.

While on assignment, Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) encounters one of the fierce title creatures — a Predator — and discovers a gauntlet and helmet, the latter of which he mails home for safe-keeping. It’s here that his son, Rory, begins fiddling with it, drawing unwanted attention from space and discouraging bullies with his new gadget. Meanwhile, Quinn finds himself on a bus with other deserters, scapegoats, and military outcasts. At an hour and forty-two minutes, character development is limited, but the group kind of gets you to care as they quip, try to remember decency when talking to scientist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn), and occasionally shoot at something. The ride here is far from joyless as they work together, more often than not against a shady military group than the invading species.

One of the film’s surprising gems is that Rory is not simply used as a plot device, he being a boy with Asperger’s. His condition makes him able to understand the predator’s equipment and show bravery standing up to grownups. Whatever the age, a bully is still a bully, and a unique mind can often solve problems even of the most insane variety.

Where the film starts to falter is in its jarring camera movements during action sequences. Many enjoyable and bloody moments are fully visible, while others are hard to follow in the film’s extended scenes of darkness. To really deliver with a limited script, the action would’ve needed to be top-notch, and in this case, it’s a tier or two below that. Director Shane Black has shown skill in this area, but with reportedly extensive reshoots, the film definitely feels like a missed opportunity. It still is a loud action flick with little new to offer as the creatures supposedly “evolve.” Some questions are still left unanswered in a way that is more irritating than interesting. The ending leaves the door wide open for a sequel that this film didn’t necessarily earn. Still, your time wouldn’t be completely wasted watching this one if you love violent and amusing ragtag teams in action.


For more movie reviews, follow Davis on Letterboxd @dwoodwardy.