By: Kevin Jordan
Eight years ago, I was only a fledgling movie critic. At that time, I did not have press credentials, I was not part of the Denver Film Critic Society, and I was mostly writing as part of a podcast I co-hosted about reality TV shows (long story). I was also not yet attending advanced screenings, which means I paid actual money to see 2010’s Predators. After rereading that review, there are two things that I was very wrong about. The first was declaring the Predator and Alien franchises dead. The second was declaring I would never watch another movie featuring either creature again. Granted, I gave myself an out by starting the declaration with “I’ll probably forget (conveniently) what I’m about to say…” and I definitely forgot. Since putting my foot in my mouth, I have seen Prometheus, Alien: Covenant, and now The Predator. I stand by the rest of that review though. Predators was a shitty movie that should have been the end of the franchise. Instead, Shane Black (with a writing assist from Ted Dekker) made The Predator thinking “no, this should be the end of the franchise.”
The first mistake made by everyone involved in the making of The Predator was thinking that the best way to revive a franchise – that is really only a franchise due to technicalities – was to double-down on the insipid idea of a mysterious government agency that knows all about the predator species. Then, they all got drunk with Michael Bay and, the next thing they knew, they had already filmed a bunch of scenes with a ten-foot predator whose skin transforms into armor plating. Finally, after the most epic game of flip-cup since the great Delta-Rho-Gamma tournament of 1993, they collectively thought “hey – remember how everyone loved the first Predator because it featured peak Arnold Schwarzenegger fighting the most wicked and lethal alien this side of a xenomorph? What if we did the opposite of that?”
(SPOILER ALERT – flip-cup is a really fast way to get drunk. Sorry to ruin the surprise.)
Holbrook plays Quinn McKenna, an Army Ranger sniper who is nearly squished by a crashing spaceship’s escape pod in Mexico during a mission. And you thought this movie was going to be ridiculous. Anyway, he manages to defeat the predator in battle using the predator’s own bracer, grabs the predator’s mask, and escapes into the jungle to avoid capture by the Mexicans. Upon reaching a town, he mails the hardware home, then returns to his command for a debriefing. Unfortunately, the mysterious agents, led by Will Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), have Quinn designated as a lunatic and throw him on a bus with other soldiers marked as lunatics (that are inexplicably at this same secret facility that Quinn is transferred to). Meanwhile, Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) is called in to examine the captured predator. All hell breaks loose – and by hell, I mean the predator – and Dr. Bracket and the loonies escape the carnage. Mean-meanwhile (or is it meanwhile-while), the super predator lands on Earth to hunt down regular predator. You still with me? Here is where it gets stupid. Also, take a drink.
Still smarting from their flip-cup loss, Black and Dekker came up with the greatest idea – take another shot of absinthe and start a line of power tools. When someone pointed out copyright laws, they came up with a different really bad idea and retconned the motivations of the entire predator species. Remember how the predators would rip the spines out of their prey like a trophy? Right. Awesome. I know. But, they were not actually collecting trophies. They were collecting spinal fluid of formidable foes and genetically modifying themselves with that fluid to make themselves more awesome. Right. Not awesome. I know. Now drink.
To make matters worse, after dispatching with regular predator, super predator warns everyone holding a gun that he is going to give them all a head start before he murders them all and collects young, autistic Rory McKenna (Jacob Tremblay) for his spinal fluid. You read that correctly. Young Rory was tinkering with the predator technology Quinn mailed home and quickly deciphered pretty much everything about the technology, while also triggering something that allowed the super predator to track down the gear. Not knowing that Hollywood loves exploiting stereotypical autistic abilities, the super predator decides he simply must have Rory’s pattern-recognizing ability. Forget about the fact that the predator race has solved faster-than-light travel, invented cloaking devices, and have helmets that allow them to see a huge range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This kid is the key to finally being able to solve what humans call a Rubik’s Cube, a device that has bedeviled the predator race since first landing on Earth in the late 1970s.
The last piece of this shit pie is that regular predator was travelling to Earth to deliver a technology that would help the humans fight the predator race. Wait, what? Why!? Climate change? The predator cares about climate change? Or the human race? No. NO! At one point, agent Traegar explains that the predators are causing climate change to eliminate the human race and heat up the planet so they can move in. And you thought I was kidding that the filmmakers all got drunk with Michael Bay.
The craziest thing about The Predator is that the audience clapped at the end of the screening despite nearly everything about the film being objectively terrible and the film coming just short of being a parody of a Predator film. I could not tell if it was ironic clapping because they were sad or honest clapping because they thought it was that good. If it was honest, happy clapping, anyone who still makes movies for artistic or serious reasons should quit now. You have lost. If it was ironic clapping, it is because they all remember the original Predator and were dying inside after witnessing a tragedy. The best explanation I have is because the film was stuffed with comedy and maybe they were just happy to hear such lines as:
“He kills people so you can be a mailman.” – Rory explaining to a mailman what his dad does.
“You are one beautiful mother fucker.” – Dr. Bracket paying homage to the original Predator while looking the captured predator over.
“If you don’t stop with this bible shit, I’m going to set you on fire.” – Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key) to fellow lunatic soldier.
If it was not those quotes or the ample amounts of blood and death, then they all must have had dinner with Michael Bay prior to the screening. I hear he is a flip-cup master.
Rating: Ask for $58 back and we will see if I remember not to watch the inevitable next Predator film.