Quick Hit: A bloody bus barreling boisterously backwards.
The Predator franchise has always been about less than some of the other headier franchises in horror. It’s compared and contrasted beautifully with the Alien franchise, but it never reaches the same intelligent heights. After all, while that franchise continues to spin out as it attempts to explain the Alien role within the universe, Predator has never quite gotten the same level of distance of its characters. That’s because while it’s fun to watch the Alien Queen fight Ripley, it’s also fun to watch the build-up to Ripley deciding to stand and fight her. Predator has always been about macho men and jungle warfare (the original had a lot in common with war movies about Vietnam), and hasn’t gone above that.
The reboot, I’m happy to say, is no different. Why they keep manufacturing them, I’ll never know, but I’ll keep paying my money to watch them. The movie has an extremely ludicrous plot that features (and don’t stop me because otherwise I don’t think my fingers will be able to start up again) – an autistic boy that is somehow hacking Predator technology he received from his father who saw the Predator kill a bunch of his friends and now is on a CIA type agency watch list that puts him on a Looney bus filled with other characters that have reasons to be awesome and yet comedy gold and then they all start to fight the Predator and also solve issues with his ex-wife and there is also a giant Predator and we should explain why the Predators are here so maybe something about global warming and by the way, Predators kill to eat so these should really be the Hunters or something like that.
Yes, that was a terrific run-on sentence. And yes, that probably doesn’t do justice to it all. There’s a LOT going on, but it is also probably the least important part of the movie, as far as what makes it good at times. When director/writer Shane Black focuses in on his characters, he frequently gives them funny moments. There’s a great shot of young Jacob Tremblay walking around Trick R’ Treating in a Predator helmet, and the explanation of why all the respective gentleman are on the Loony bus is another highlight. Black excels at capturing the ball-busting humor that so many fail to emulate. There’s some terrific casting – Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight) is a standout as gruff Nebraska, and Keegan-Michael Key steals several scenes as well. But they are part of a big problem – the cast grew to the point that there is not enough time for everyone, and people get shafted.
This all leads to an extremely CGI filled third act as the Predator stalks and kills characters, and at times, it’s as dark as Venom was in making it difficult to tell which character is actually getting killed off. There are some things that could have made The Predator an excellent restarting point for the franchise, like the ability to have a movie full of meta-jokes about other entries in the series, but instead, the movie comes off as just all right most of the time. I’m going to give the movie a “C-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"