THE PREDATOR: REVIEW BY JAMES MURPHY
THIS FRANCHISE SEEMS INDESTRUCTIBLE. BUT IF IT FLOPS? YOU CAN KILL IT.
Is there ENOUGH here to want to see, let alone expand on? Hmm..
Ok so..I saw it. THE PREDATOR. I enjoyed sitting down with a bunch of lovely buddies in a luxury cinema. I loved dissecting the movie over Beers on a Saturday night. It lends itself well to that spirit of nostalgic, retrospective, escapist relaxation. But it is also an incredibly flawed product in many ways. Remarkably unremarkable.
- There are some REALLY interesting ideas in the script: expanding the mythology of the series and serving as self contained sci-fi.
- Look out for some MOMENTS of tender friendship, family dynamics, respect for war veterans and vulnerable persons /children.
- The design is great: distinctive visual developments of the titular monster and its tech.
- You may well laugh a few times. Out loud!
- The women are neither damsels in distress nor flagged up patronisingly ‘strong and independent’: they serve the plot and vice versa, as real, compelling characters.
- There is a relatively logical sequence of agenda between competing camps of character: goodies, baddies and somewhere in between-ers.
- OLIVIA MUNN is an absolute STAR! And it’s great to see THOMAS JANE back up onscreen in a major franchise role.
- The film does indeed keep you guessing and curious, throughout, even as it ends.
- SHANE BLACK IS NOT AN ACTION DIRECTOR!! See also: IRON MAN 3.
- Some EXCELLENT ideas are there yet squandered rather than developed. See also: IRON MAN 3. Again.
- In its bid to be a throwback to the 80s/90s non P/C style of action adventure? It simply has LOTS of wasted, gratuitous swearing. Which makes us give less ‘fu’ks’ the more we hear that word.
- The attempt to fuse nice, wholesome, progressive politics and pastoral care of kids agenda to old school nasty monster mash action fest simply cannot work. Tonally illiterate!
- There are DIRE misunderstandings and painfully insensitive representations of mental illness, autism, PTSD and even Tourette’s Syndrome.
- A LOT of filler and pointless scenes that could have been excised, easily and thereby reduced the run time and increased the PACING.
- This has CLEARLY been bifurcated by re-shoots /rewrites and the overall feel is a frankly an amateurish mess.
- WHAT HAPPENED to the Predator vs Home /school /suburbia we were sort of teased with / promised in certain promotional materials?
- Ending is so rushed that one fails to get quite critical character fates and no that does not make one wish to see it again but quite the opposite!
- It all has an oddly small scale feel; as though Black were knowingly making a straight to video era B movie that happens to trade off a franchise product.
ALL IN ALL:
One has to ask ‘why’ was this made? Yes, there is an ongoing nostalgia /soft reboot market. I get that and lap it up. It’s why I was excited by the prospect of watching this. But PREDATOR, at its core, has never been ripe for the franchise treatment. I am one of the few that actually enjoy ALIEN V PREDATOR, because it gave new visual life to both brands and in a manner that did not harm their core mythology. But PREDATOR 2 is just nasty and PREDATORS was plain dull and boring. What has been missing, consistently in these reinventions, that is STILL missing in THE PREDATOR? Not what but WHOM. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER!
The first movie in the series was a self contained Arnie vehicle. Take him out of the equation and you simply do not have enough to play with. And sadly, whilst the man was offered a cameo for this latest iteration, he turned it down. Rumour has it that he would have accepted the call, had he been granted a larger role? And he’d have basically saved this. Shane Black’s best ideas (of which he has had and continues to have, many) DEPEND on a charismatic, powerhouse STAR. It’s why he worked so well with MEL GIBSON on LETHAL WEAPON and yes, with ROBERT DOWNEY JUNIOR for KISS KISS, BANG BANG (the film, incidentally, that signposted Downey’s return to power just before IRON MAN crowned him King of Hollywood again).
So THE PREDATOR is a colossally missed opportunity and waste of time and talent. There ARE moments of fun and indeed, glimpses of greatness. But far too little /few to make a truly satisfying experience. You will not feel necessarily cheated if you do watch this. But you lose nothing by missing it and that is important in an era where Box Office numbers are to a large extent dictated by brand recognition but also by the sheer cost of a visit to the Pictures.
I’m at a loss as to why Black felt compelled to write /direct this. It does nothing for him, the franchise or indeed, for Cinema generally. It is not even a ‘ha ha so bad it’s good’ romp or the kind of knowingly camp pastiche exercise. If you want tributes to B movie exploitation Cinema with auteur cinematic vision attached? Go see a Tarantino film. If you want a good PREDATOR film? Stick to the original! For decent Shane Black product? Just try ANY of his back catalogue. All of those are far better than THE PREDATOR.
If you HAVE to see it? Fine. Curiosity /sentiment / group dynamics might make it a worthwhile experience. But as a film, in itself? A hollow, pointless, entirely miss-able disappointment. C-. RUN AWAY WHILE YOU CAN: GET TO THE CHOPPER! 🙂
JAMES MURPHY HAS BEEN TOO BUSY PUSHING PENCILS FOR THE CIA BUT WAS SMUGGLED INTO SEE THE FILM TO BRING YOU THIS REVIEW. IF IT BLEEDS? YOU CAN SHARE IT. 🙂