On a mission to free hostages from a drug cartel in Mexico, Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) manages to squeeze off his shot even though a spaceship has just flown overhead and crash landed. After witnessing his two teammates getting slaughtered by an alien, McKenna grabs its helmet and wrist gauntlet and mails them back to a P.O. box in the U.s. Because of his experience, McKenna is thrown into the VA's 'Group 2' to be sent to a psychiatric ward, but when a bigger, badder alien arrives to retrieve its armor, these soldiers known as the 'Loonies' escape to fight "The Predator."
Cowriter (with Fred Dekker)/director Shane Black ("The Nice Guys"), who starred as Hawkins in the original 1987 film, is known for his macho, wise guy humor, so there are elements of his "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by way of "Terminator 2" monster movie that are certainly entertaining. But outside of its lunatic banter, the film itself is a mess, rarely frightening, its cinematic references feeling more like regurgitated ideas than homage, its cheesy camp more silly than inspired. It works as one of those bad movies than can be enjoyed at a drive-in with mind altering substances.
As McKenna's navigating his surreal ordeal, we witness action in two other locations. That box he shipped is delivered to his ex-wife's home instead, where his son Rory ("Room's" Jacob Tremblay) opens it and immediately begins to crack alien code, unknowingly putting a trace on himself. Meanwhile preeminent biological evolutionary scientist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) is called in by Traeger (Sterling K. Brown, finally cast against type as this piece's villain), the same man who sentenced McKenna to the looney bin, to study the alien they've managed to capture alive. Decontaminated and admitted to the lab, the awestruck Casey spars with Traeger's choice of name for the alien, the Predator, arguing that its behavior is more in line with hunting for sport. Seconds later, its sedatives wear off and the slaughter begins. Casey's proven right when, naked and crouched in the decontamination chamber, the Predator passes her by for more formidable prey.
Handcuffed in the back of a transport truck, McKenna meets suicidal Nebraska (Trevante Rhodes, "Moonlight"), irreverent Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key), Tourette's sufferer Baxley (Thomas Jane), amateur magician Lynch (Alfie Allen) and the pious Nettles (Augusto Aguilera), who laugh at his explanation for being there until they spy the escaped alien jumping off a rooftop after cutting a man in two. They take over the vehicle and head to save Rory, picking up the panicked Casey along the way.
There are two main Predators here and the initial one we're used to is here for a surprising reason. The second one is 2.0, an eleven foot tall killing machine that has evolved by incorporating the DNA of its most menacing quarry, accompanied by two Predator style dogs. Although its cloaking ability is seen early on (and appropriated by McKenna at one point), it takes an hour an a half to get to its heat seeking POV. There are some guffaws to be had at the cheesy effects of the film's spaceship opening, but the film's climax sinks to outright ludricrousness, McKenna and company surfing the top of a soaring ship. Your mileage may vary on the story's Halloween time setting, the better for Rory to trick or treat à la E.T., but the film is also downright sloppy, the Predator's dogs countered by a real one last seen running toward Rory after saving him, only to be dropped like a hot rock. The new, all CGI Predator bears an uncanny resemblance to John Travolta in "Battlefield Earth."
Almost all of the film's pleasures are to be found in the dialogue and interplay among the loonies, although it often sinks to the juvenile level (witness the 'misinterpretation' of Casey's reaction to Baxley's Tourette's spasms). Holbrook, Rhodes and Key are the cast standouts, Munn aquitting herself well with some physical comedy after Casey shoots herself in the foot with a tranquilizer dart, but Tremblay seems completely adrift here.
Steven Wilder Striegel, a friend of Black's who had been arrested for trying to lure a 14 year-old girl into a sexual relationship, was cast as a jogger who hits on Munn's character. No one was apprised of the man's past and Munn was appalled when she discovered it, getting his scene cut from the final film. Was this Black's idea of a sick inside joke, a predator of a different kind? It's an unfortunate footnote to a movie destined for cult status because of its silliness quotient.
Robin did not see this film.
Home | Reviews and Ratings Archive | Top 10 | Video | Crew | Article | Links
Reeling has been chosen as a Movie Review Query Engine Top Critic.