‘The Predator (2018)’ review: Gratuitously violent and offensive

Shane Black’s ‘The Predator’ is a deviation to the horror-action classic and this is not the film’s biggest problem.

I understand Shane Black’s decision to take the risk here. The succeeding sequels to the 1987 Predator revamped the franchise by introducing larger predators and moving the story outside Earth. Then there’s the horrendous idea of pitting them against aliens, which spawned two spin-off films – by far the lowest point of the series. Several movies in and the camouflage is already off, we all know what the beast looks like beneath its mask. Where can this film go after being rehashed several times? Shane Black’s idea: spin it into a black comedy. The trailer makes it look like it’s not. But trust me, it is.

The resulting tone is actually closer to the original – Black also happens to have a small role in it way back – but this sequel is quite irreverent to be classified under the horror genre. It almost works as a satire where the film falls prey of its masculinity.

At its center is an army ranger Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) who survives a run-in with a predator during his overseas mission. He seizes its helmet and gauntlet for evidence and for some reason, he thinks it’s best to ship these items to his home address. The package finds its way to his son Rory (Jacob Tremblay), who plays with it and accidentally summons another predator to their town. How can the kid decode such alien technology? Through the help of his autism disorder, the film says. I can imagine a lot of psychologists shaking their heads with the misconception that this film gives.

Boyd Holbrook and Jacob Tremblay in ‘The Predator.’ Photo via 20th Century Fox.

It does not stop there. Psychological disorders are not only dismissed as convenient plot points but also as a source of gags. McKenna gets imprisoned for hiding the alien tech and once we step inside the prison bus, the film introduces a ragtag band of ex-military misfits who will help McKenna save his son from danger. Nebraska (Trevante Rhodes) is a smooth-talking, suicide case, Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key) is loud and mentally unstable, Baxley (Thomas Jane) has Tourette’s syndrome that causes him to yell obscenities, Nettles (Augusto Aguilera) is a dimwit pilot who suffered from a traumatic brain injury and Lynch (Alfie Allen) is an explosives expert who’s probably the least crazy of them all.

The film then starts hitting you with an endless barrage of crass, middle-school level jokes that are pulled out of thin air. Coyle yells at Baxley, “How do you circumcise a homeless man? Kick your mom on the chin!” A few minutes later, he comes up with a different punchline, “If your mom’s vagina were a video game, it’d be rated E for Everyone!” This film clearly doesn’t want to be taken seriously. I would have really embraced Black’s idea, if not only for the fact that this franchise is a horror classic that has actual stakes. The tone of this sequel does not support this notion at all.

The humor is intentionally offensive and misogynist. As long as you’re not offended and you dumb down enough, it’ll be funny. But then it becomes sad and uncomfortable when you realize that you’re laughing at these psychologically damaged people. It feels exploitative. The humor of the original Predator works because it’s served in small doses. In here, the humor is in service of itself and not the plot.

Alfie Allen, Keegan Michael-Key, Thomas Jane, Augusto Aguilera, Boyd Holbrook and Trevante Rhodes in ‘The Predator.’ Photo via 20th Century Fox.

Nonetheless, the supporting characters earn their charm, and you kinda wish along the way that everyone gets spared. But this is The Predator and what boring film will it be if there are no deaths. When it gets to the carnage, it’s gratuitously violent and visceral – decapitation, disembowelment, skewering, you name it.

The tagline boasts that “the hunt has evolved” and while there’s not much new to alien tech, the predators here don’t merely exist to hunt. They now have a more discernible purpose which will be revealed along the way. There’s a Super Predator still in play and to top that, the film unleashes some ‘predator dogs’ as well.

Olivia Munn and Sterling K. Brown in ‘The Predator.’ Photo via 20th Century Fox.

Surprisingly, the film pits humans against each other more so than against predators. Will Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), a trigger-happy, government guy has his own reasons for capturing the monsters. He hires evolutionary biologist Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) who becomes the film’s target of inappropriate attention. With her character not being treated seriously by the script, Munn’s performance falls short of convincing. Likewise, Holbrook does not leave a lasting impression close enough to even what half of THE Arnold Schwarzenegger gives.

The Predator jams many ideas – genetic modification, global warming, government conspiracies and predator factions – in such a breakneck pace that it’s far from being boring. I am generally entertained from start to finish. However, for the most part, the film is preoccupied in committing to be a black comedy when all it manages to be is an offensive and unfocused, hot mess. Also, the end reveal is served clunky. Does this sequel justify the resurgence of the iconic crab-faced super alien? No. As a Shane Black fan, I am disappointed. I’d rather rewatch something like Annihilation.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Directed by Shane Black, written by Fred Dekker and Shane Black
Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Olivia Munn, Jacob Tremblay, Sterling K. Brown, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Yvonne Strahovski, Jake Busey, Niall Matter, and Brian A. Prince.
Run time: 107 minutes

Relentless action amps thrilling hunt in ‘The Predator’

From veteran action director Shane Black and producer John Davis (who also produced the original and subsequent Predator films), man’s most formidable adversary once again reaches Earth in “The Predator”.

In the latest movie, Predators have been coming to Earth and hunting humans for some time now, and it’s no longer quite the secret it was. The government has established a defense agency dedicated solely to protecting humans from a Predator incursion. Project Stargazer was initially conceived of as a high-tech, top-secret government lab in which captured Predators could be studied. Scribe Fred Dekker says, “But in the back-story, the government needed some kind of plausible deniability, so they put it in the hands of the CIA.” But when Traeger, played by Sterling K. Brown, takes over operations, he privatizes Stargazer to profit from Predator technology.

Davis recalls what first drew him to the Predator, more than 30 years ago: “It was the idea of the hunter. It was the idea of this creature from another planet that hunted the greatest game and would go from planet-to-planet for that sport, and the American Commando and group of guys in the jungle that represented that. And in the end, he was outsmarted and defeated, so even though the Predator had great brawn and weaponry, there was an ingenuity and a desire to survive in man that made it a fair fight.”

Olivia Munn, left, and Boyd Holbrook star in Twentieth Century Fox’ “The Predator.”

In addition to writing a slate of sensational movies, including Lethal Weapon, and directing films such as Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, director Shane Black is also an actor, perhaps best known for the role of Hawkins in Predator, the 1987 classic directed by John McTiernan. But, says Black, “The Predator in this film is the deadliest and scariest one yet.”

The director brings forth Boyd Holbrook as Quinn McKenna, a retired Special Forces army ranger turned mercenary in the thick of relentless thrilling action. He says, “The original Predator was legendary, so it’s an honor and a privilege to get to come back with Shane after 30 years and reinvent this thing.”

Because of the training he’d begun to shoot his previous film, Holbrook was in great shape. He recalls that while working on “Logan,” he met a stunt man. “He was an ex-sniper out of SEALs. McKenna is Special Forces Army Ranger, but you’re splitting hairs at that point. I was fortunate enough to hang out with the guy and he got me on the beach at 5 AM, in the water, running, and training. I did that for a couple months. What I truly believe is that the preparation is all about the conditioning of that person. There’s a gauntlet of things that make up these people. I thought it was really important to get that sensibility of how these guys have this morbid sense of humor. These guys are really a fascinating group of men.”

“The Predator” is now showing in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox.

Award-winning young actor Jacob Tremblay triggers return of ‘The Predator’

From the outer reaches of space to the to the backwoods of southern Georgia, the hunt comes home in director Shane Black’s explosive reinvention of the Predator series. Now, the universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before. And only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biology professor can prevent the end of the human race.

Young gifted child Rory (Jacob Tremblay), unknowingly triggers the return of “The Predator” to Earth when he tinkered with the package that contains alien technology his dad , Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), sent to their home from a recent military mission. With the government attempting to cover up the extent of Predator incursions on Earth, a rag-tag group of military veterans must figure out what is going on and how to save the world – or at least themselves – as the battle spreads from the depths of outer space to once-safe suburbia. Rory’s gift for solving puzzles helps him understand the Predator language. “He’s really good at figuring out the Predator,” Tremblay says.

Shane Black directs an extraordinary cast from the script he penned with Fred Dekker. Boyd Holbrook heads the ensemble which also stars Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, and Sterling K. Brown. “The Predator” is produced by John Davis, who brought the seminal Predator franchise to life.

Twentieth Century Fox presents “The Predator.”

Quinn’s son, Rory, is on the autism spectrum. To help research his role, Tremblay and Black paid several visits to the Canucks Autism Network, a Vancouver-based organization providing sports and recreational programs for individuals with autism. “We made friends and got to hang out with some of the kids,” says Tremblay.

“This wonderful little boy was probably the most dependable actor in the cast,” says Black about Jacob Tremblay, who plays Rory. “He’s a one-take wonder.” Black notes that when they were pressed for time, they never needed to worry about young Tremblay hitting his marks. “We’d get all three shots because he’d do every one perfect, the first take!”

Jacob Tremblay has quickly established himself as one of the industry’s finest working young actors. Tremblay garnered international recognition for his breakout performance opposite ‪Brie Larson in the critically-acclaimed, Oscar-nominated film Room. Tremblay received the “Breakthrough Performance Award” from the National Board of Review, a Critics’ Choice Award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association for “Best Young Actor,” and a nomination for “Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role” by the Screen Actors Guild, among other accolades, for his performance in the film.

“The Predator” opens September 12 nationwide in cinemas from 20th Century Fox.

Highly-upgraded, deadliest ‘The Predator’ returns in fourth installment

Thirty-one years since Arnold Schwarzenegger first faced down a lethal alien creature hunting him and his comrades through the jungles of Central America, the Predator franchise is being brought up-to-date by one of the people who suffered at the hands of that original extra-terrestrial. This time, though, Shane Black is in charge, and the Predators do what he says. Black, who acted in the 1987 original, is now co-writer and director for “The Predator,” which aims to bring a whole new dimension to the story.

In this year’s “The Predator”, a former Army Ranger and Special Forces soldier (Boyd Holbrook’s Quinn McKenna) has an encounter with a mysterious alien – which he later learns is a Predator – while on a mercenary mission in Mexico. He sends some of the creature’s technology back to the US, where his son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) figures out the unearthly language used to control it. This, in turn, exposes him to a serious threat from the Predators. Confined for psychiatric evaluation by the government as a way to keep him from revealing what he’s seen, Quinn escapes with a group of fellow former soldiers, dubbed “the loonies,” and heads out to save his son, discovering a much greater conspiracy at work.

In addition to writing a slate of sensational movies, including Lethal Weapon, and directing films such as Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Shane Black (known as one of the pioneering scribes of the action genre) is also an actor, perhaps best known for the role of Hawkins in Predator, the 1987 classic directed by John McTiernan. But, says Black, “The Predator in this film is the deadliest and scariest one yet.”

“Thirty years later, it’s the same Predator, but over time the Predator has upgraded himself,” says producer John Davis. “This is not a reinvention and not a redo. This is the franchise you loved, 30 years later. These are the consequences of what has happened. This is what has been going on in the last three decades. They’re badder and bigger – they’ve evolved. It ain’t your daddy’s Predator.”

Davis says, “I think this is one of those franchises that people love, and have loved through the ages. The very first Predator still has a huge worldwide audience, and sells around the globe on cable and streaming services. It’s hard to believe that 30 years later, this movie continues to captivate generation after generation.”

Black says the biggest homage he could pay to the original was getting the right actors that had the same kind of camaraderie that the characters in Predator had – Boyd Holbrook heads the ensemble which also stars Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, and Sterling K. Brown. Holbrook plays a mercenary who finds himself leading a ragtag team of veterans to go up against the lethal alien. Black says, “They’re the forgotten soldiers, misfits. They’re all broken. They aren’t a crack team of soldiers. It takes these guys a bit of effort to be good, but there’s still a spark waiting to be ignited. There’s an unquenchable spirit that is flickering, and this is their opportunity to come to life and support each other and go up against the monster. They are the least likely people you would ever choose for this, except that they’re really tough when the chips are down. They have spirit, they have spunk, and they have an unquenchable loyalty to each other.”

A 20th Century Fox feature film, “The Predator” opens September 12 in PH cinemas nationwide.

WATCH: ‘The Predator’ trailer debut reveals return of upgraded deadliest hunters

20th Century Fox finally reveals the first trailer of The Predator where a young boy unknowingly opens a path towards Earth for the most dangerous of hunters in the universe. Helmed by blockbuster filmmaker Shane Black (Iron Man 3), “The Predator” is an action-packed and intensely high-octane movie that will open in Philippine cinemas on September 12.

“The Predator” trails the return of the most dangerous of creatures in the universe that continuously upgrade themselves genetically using DNA from other species making them supreme and unequal killing machines. When Rory (played by Jacob Tremblay, The Room & Wonder), activates a mysterious alien device that paves way for the predators’ return, his father and an unlikely band of crazy ex-soldiers form an alliance to fight a common unbeatable enemy to save the human race from extinction.

The movie features an impressive cast that includes Olivia Munn (from X-Men: Apocalypse, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Ocean’s 8), Boyd Holbrook (Logan, Narcos), Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us), Keegan Michael Key (Why Him?), Thomas Jane (The Punisher movie), Jake Busey (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight) and Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones).

Gear up for the upcoming, no-holds-barred action extravaganza when The Predator opens in Philippine cinemas on September 12, 2018 nationwide.