Film Review: “The Predator” (2018)

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Promotional poster for the 2018 film “The Predator”

I have a confession to make. I’m a fan of the original 1987 film Predator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, and a ton of other fun tough guys. No, it’s not even close to the best movie ever made, or even the best Schwarzenegger film, but like I said, it’s a lot of fun, relative to 1980s action, blood and guts movies. I’ve seen it dozens of times.

I’ve seen all of the other Predator sequels including the various “Aliens vs. Predators” movies exactly once. They aren’t as much fun, but still a way to kill a couple of hours.

So when I saw the 2018 The Predator at my local public library, I figured “why not?”

Like the original, it starts out in a jungle environment (that is, after the whole “chase through space” sequence), but that’s not where the main action takes place. Also, this movie is really a sequel to all of the others (not sure why they didn’t mention Aliens) and naturally, after a spaceship crash, a secret U.S. government project called “Stargazer” captures the pilot and calls in evolutionary biologist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) as a consultant. Of course, all hell breaks loose and the Predator escapes.

On the flip side, U.S. Army sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) was at the site of the spaceship crash and survived an attack by the Predator after it killed his two partners. McKenna manages to take some of the Predator’s weapons and mails them to his Post Office box back stateside.

Meanwhile (yes, it’s involved) McKenna’s young autistic (genius) son Rory (Jacob Trembly) intercepts that technology, basically because since his Dad hadn’t paid for his P.O. Box, so the Postal Service delivered all of his held mail back home (not sure if that’s how it really works…I think USPS just keeps your stuff until you pay up).

Anyway, Rory’s toying with the alien tech leads the now escaped Predator, plus the larger, nastier Predator that’s pursuing him (assuming “him”) right to the kid.

Quinn, because he was dumb enough to actually tell the Army that he saw an alien, is put on ice with a bunch of other mentally ill Army vets, and this is where things get interesting. They end up escaping, forming their own “unit,” and attempt to both rescue young Rory and kill the Predator. Bracket is taken into the unit after she accidentally shoots herself in the foot with a tranquilizer gun and has to be rescued, but it’s her expertise that helps the others deal with the Predators and their hunting “dogs.”

While the plot is a lot more involved than the original, and the special effects took a quantum leap forward, the movie is probably no better or worse than the 1987 model. I found Munn’s character a little too much of an expert, especially in effortlessly firing rifles and picking locks. All of the guys in the movie could shoot because the military trained them to, but there’s no explanation as to why Bracket could do the same thing.

Another thing about Munn’s portrayal that bothered me was that she didn’t seem to know how to run. When she’s chasing the Predator, her strides are too restricted, which means she wasn’t running as fast as she could. There might be a practical reason for this, but it caught my attention.

I know the filmmakers wanted “badass” women in the movie too (McKenna’s ex-wife Emily played by Yvonne Strahovski was tough in her own right), but a few lines of dialog explaining that Bracket’s Dad was a Marine who taught her how to shoot and her Mom was a cat burglar who taught her how to pick locks (I’m making all this up) would have been helpful.

The “crazies” were endearing and they all lasted a lot longer than I’d have expected. The Stargazer group, especially their leader Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) were appropriately “offed” by the bigger Predator, bringing a traditional sense of cinematic justice, especially since Traeger ordered his men to shoot little Rory in the knees (they didn’t get the chance, fortunately). Anyone who menaces a child, even in the movies, deserves to die.

The smaller, escaped Predator, as it turns out, was trying to bring humanity a way to defend themselves against the new and improved line of Predators, which worked in the end. Also, apparently Predators are visiting Earth more frequently than before to sample the best of our DNA before climate change kills us all. A bonus is that since the Predator species thrives in hotter climes, they plan on taking over our world once we die off completely.

Not a great film, and maybe not one I’ll ever watch again, but it was fun, especially Holbrook’s McKenna character (though not as much as Schwarzenegger’s “Dutch”), and like I said, it was a way to kill a couple of hours.

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