Sunday, 23 September 2018

The Predator (2018)

Infrared vision showing the Predator creature and the Predator logoDirector: Shane Black
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn. Sterling K. Brown, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Yvonne Strahovski, Jake Busey


After an encounter with the titular intergalactic hunter, Army sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is put on a bus with other military soldiers, who are held as government captives. They take it upon themselves to hunt the Predator, while crossing paths with a secret government organisation, and being hunt by an even larger Predator.

Throughout his career, Shane Black has shown himself to be a completely distinctive voice in cinema. His script-work and direction feel entirely unique, managing to stand-out no matter how big the budget, or whether it fits into a larger franchise. This makes it all the more unfortunate how drowned out that same voice feels, as though Black's control was relinquished in favour of such studio mandated chaos.

Prominent characters disappear for long stretches of time, only to randomly reappear later, and vehicles are willed to appear out of thin air, as though somebody activated a cheat code. The most notable problem lies in the editing, as though somebody hacked away at the film while blindfolded, after downing a bottle of vodka. It's an understatement to call it a choppy job, as scenes are left incomprehensible, and the viewer is unsure as to whether characters have actually been killed or not.

Since 1987, the Predator has been an imposing figure, largely thanks to the practical effects, which makes the terror feel real, and this impressively designed antagonist feel very tangible. To be fair, Black utilises this aspect well, but then unceremoniously tosses it aside, to rely on a new type of Predator. The result takes away a big part of why the creature worked so well, in favour of a new design that's barely noticeable, brought alive thanks to glaring, and seemingly unfinished, effects work.

It's apparent the cast are doing their best in the roles, but they can only do so much when the roles are so underwritten, or lazily cobbled together. Keegan-Michael Key and Thomas Jane appear to be the source of humour, but this means delivering half-arsed "Your mother" jokes, and a reductive portrayal of Tourettes. But somehow, they're better served than some of the other characters, as Alfie Allen's use is just to deliver a card trick, and Yvonne Strahovski's strong willed character is completely forgotten about. Spare a thought for Olivia Munn, whose great performance is especially wasted on a barely thought out character, only to keep being saved by Predator dog-ex-machina.

When watching The Predator, one can't shake how in turmoil the final result feels. From script to directing, and especially editing, this is a complete mess that can't even be considered fun, due to rarely being comprehensible. When all is said and done, 20th Century Fox is left looking as spineless as those the eponymous creature kills.

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