The image at left should be somewhat familiar to any SF fan who goes to the movies or reads; it is, of course, the Predator. This particular poster is for the sixth Predator movie, if I’ve counted them right: let’s see, there’s the 1987 original Predator, with Ahnuld, Jesse “The ex-Gov” Ventura, Shane Black, and Carl Weathers in the jungle. An interesting serial killer movie. That was followed by 1990’s urban-jungled Predator 2, with Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Kevin Peter Hall, and Rubén Blades. Then Predators came along in 2010 not only in the jungle, but on another planet—with kidnapped warriors Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace, and Alice Braga. The franchise was beginning to show cracks. Someone decided to merge two franchises and we got Alien vs. Predator in 2004, with Lance Henriksen reprising his role as Weyland and Sanaa Lathan as the strong Ripley-esque female lead. It was an interesting concept and not badly done. Then Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem came along in 2007 and kind of blew both franchises out of the water. I guess the thinking was “the more the merrier,” as there were scores of xenomorphs and Ghu knows how many Predators (I’ve forgotten). Nobody really escaped that movie, which was kinda bad (the movie, not necessarily that nobody escaped).
And now we have the movie that may actually kill the franchise: The Predator (2018), written and directed by Shane Black (who was in the first movie), along with Fred Dekker (Black was the wimpy guy with glasses). The stars are Yvonne Strahovski, Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, and Sterling K. Brown. This movie is a hot and steaming mess. The plot is incoherent and, often, seems just an excuse for explosions or bloodletting. The acting ranges from wooden (Holbrook) to funny (Key and Jane). There are, however, several good things and high spots, thankfully (Key and Jane being two).
Briefly, the plot is this: one Predator is being chased by another of his kind out in space; his ship is damaged and manages to open some kind of warp and crashland on Earth. Quinn McKenna (Holbrook), an Army Ranger sniper, heads a small team operating near the Predator; it kills his men but Quinn manages to wound and capture it. Knowing somehow that there’s a government coverup in place (after the original Predator movie), Quinn takes its helmet and arm computer/weapon and mails them to himself. Traeger, a government agent (Brown) takes the Predator into custody, as well as Quinn—as part of the coverup Quinn was afraid of—tasking a biologist, Dr. Casey Bracket (Munn), to study it under the supervision of scientist Keyes (Busey), the son of a scientist from the first movie (Gary Busey, not in this one). Quinn himself is put in with a group of ex-soldiers who all have various mental problems as a result of their service: Coyle (Key), Baxley (Jane), Lynch (Allen), and Nettles (Aguilera) to be sent to a Black Ops facility where they will be warehoused.
Meanwhile, Quinn’s high-functioning autistic son Rory (Tremblay) and his ex-wife (Strahovsky) receive the package containing the alien items because Quinn hadn’t paid the rent on his storage unit (which, if you watch Storage Wars on A&E, doesn’t happen. The contents of unpaid units are usually auctioned off) and Rory opens the box, finding the Predator’s helmet and arm unit. He accidentally activates the arm unit and, because he’s magicallysmarter than neurotypical people, manages to figure out how it works, more or less. This is pure b.s. Rory is called “ass burgers” by a couple of his schoolmates—hardly friends—but Aspergers has been folded into the autism spectrum (in 2003, actually) and what it gives you is an ability to focus better, to concentrate, not magical electronic and language powers.
Anyway, he activates the arm unit and the helmet (he also wears the helmet as a Halloween costume), and they send out a signal to the Predator who had first pursued the one who crash landed. I still have no idea why the big one—as he was revealed to be—was chasing the smaller one (Figure 2).
Meanwhile, the smaller one escapes, killing a bunch of people, and the mental cases, who are supposed to be some kind of “Dirty Dozen,” it appears, because they all set out to kill the aliens.
Somehow, Dr. Bracket (also magically) figures out that the Predators are incorporating superior DNA into their own through a recombinant DNA process; and that because the Earth is dying due to human wastage of the environment, they’ve come here to get “superior” human DNA before it’s all gone. Are you following this? Hey, if I found a species that had fouled its own nest so badly the planet was dying, I would hardly call that superior DNA. And because Rory figured out how to open the Pred’s spaceship and activate the armour, the new Predator wants Rory’s DNA. Absolutely none of the above makes any sense to me, by the way.
One fun thing about the movie is that someone mentions that their behaviour is not a predator’s behaviour: a predator kills to live. These are more like sport hunters. About time someone mentioned that! Has anyone else figured out that the Preds probably didn’t create any of their technology? There’s absolutely no way—with those nails/claws—that they can do the fine work needed to create the spaceships, let alone the fine electronics their ships and suits use. My guess is that they have enslaved some other group of poor aliens and are making them do all the fine work. Let’s see a movie about that! But I digress.
The last act is running, shooting, exploding, killing, and so on. All the people you’d expect to live do; all the people you think will be red shirts are… and we’re set up for a sequel. I hope they don’t make one. I give this two flibbets out of five, because I’m feeling generous. ¤¤.
LAST NOTES: Have you seen the IFC TV series Stan Against Evil? It’s cheesy, silly, and absolutely hilarious! It’s pure fantasy—supposedly horror—and stars John C. McGinley, Janet Varney, Nate Mooney, and Deborah Baker Jr. Set in a small New England town (possibly New Hampshire) where, a couple of hundred years ago the town sheriff had some witches burned alive, the show—which is finally finding its stride after two up-and-down seasons—attempts a lighter touch than the recently-cancelled Ash vs. The Evil Dead. And it mostly succeeds. McGinley plays the ex-sheriff, Stan Miller, and Varney his replacement, Evie Barrett. Stan’s daughter Denise (Baker) is an overgrown adolescent, and the deputy, Leon Drinkwater (Mooney), is as smart as a bag of hammers—or as dumb as a bag of rocks. (You choose!). The plots are ridiculous, the special effects pretty cheesy, but for me it all adds up to a bit of fun. I give it four flibbets! (Okay, four-minus. But still…)¤¤¤¤-
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