You know the scene in Ant Man, where Luis is explaining something and it rambles everywhere and doesn’t make a lot of sense, but is probably the best part of the movie? That’s Shane Black’s The Predator. It’s fast, it rambles, there’s scenes & dialogue that you think are going somewhere and end up going off on a tangent instead… and it’s a lot of fun on the way.
I’ll note that I didn’t give The Predator a very high bar to success. It had to be better than the last Alien vs Predator movie (which was about as bad as dousing my eyeballs with lime). It surpassed that by a wide margin. In fact, I’ll rate it as one of my favorite movies this year.
There were a ton of 80’s references in the movie, everything from “get to the choppas” to the fact that the movie opened with no previews, it went straight into the movie sort of like movies *used* to do.
The humor was good, the characters were just strong enough that you could root for them without having to worry about a lot of angst as they died. The Group 2 military folks were… well, very accurate in a lot of ways, from the inter-service rivalries to the fact that they dealt with horrible situations with dark humor and an unwillingness to give up.
The action was over-the-top and in some ways, just totally unbelievable. But it worked with the overall story. The Stargazer project boss was sufficiently crazy and evil that after a first couple scenes with him, you know he’s going to die horribly and you’re actually rooting for a predator as he dismantles his henchmen.
There’s some story and plot elements that either weren’t made clear enough or that they could have spent some time on… but I’ll accept the hand-wave in a combination of (very) unreliable narrator and the limits of the movie. There’s details that we don’t need to know and that Shane Black streamlined the movie is obvious. The couple of scenes where we get a break from the relentless pace are used to establish characterization and to add depth to the movie.
I’ve got a couple of complaints as far as the use of actors. Yvonne Stahovoski’s character was almost criminally underused. She’s a fantastic actress and I would have like to see more of her. Olivia Munn’s scientist was a bit too much of a bad-ass for her background, but she pulled it off well enough.
Story wise, I felt like it was a combination of Lethal Weapon and Predator, with the gritty buddy-cop feel to the two lead military characters. Which worked very well for me, especially with the blend of humor. The references to 80’s and 90’s action movies were great. I feel like it needed a scene with Danny Glover sitting on a toilet saying “I’m getting too old for this shit,” but other than that, I think it was far more “predator” than the last few movies in that vein.
The ending, too, sets the stage for a sequel I’d actually like to see, with humans using and adapting alien tech. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but I definitely think it’s a great ending (even if they jump ahead missing some key details on how they got there).
The movie is surprisingly pro-military and at the same time, very anti-authority. The ‘authorities’ have private mercenaries and conduct experiments and authorize murders and false-imprisonment of innocent people. The actual military members we see are trustworthy, work hard, and sacrifice everything to do what’s right, even when they know they’re going up against something they can’t defeat. There was a lot of the Aliens vibe from the “military” characters in this one, and I really liked that.
So don’t believe all the internet rage and certainly don’t judge the movie based on the critic reviews. It’s crazy, it’s messy, but man is this movie a whole lot of fun. So loosen your tie, sit back, and just enjoy the ride.