Tuesday, January 8, 2019

In short: The Predator (2018)

One of the more puzzling phenomena in mainstream genre cinema is the inexplicable inability of all sorts of filmmakers to understand the core draw of the Predator as very clearly laid out in the first, and hell, even the second movie of what alas has become a franchise of ever repeating mediocrity. If you don’t know (which would make you a Hollywood screenwriter, I guess), the core of the Predator is that he’s hunting the most deadly prey available – usually competent violent action movie machos - while being invisible, creepy, and mysterious, destroying the hubris of competent violent machos even if they should survive the movie at hand.

What Shane Black’s Predator is all about: umm, wacky comedy crazy people, autism as “the next step in human evolution” (because everyone on the Spectrum is a genius Hollywood kid I suppose – insert the sound of a head hitting a desk repeatedly here), some evil government conspiracy whose actions make little sense in connection with their supposed goals, and competent violent machos kicking Predator ass without learning a single thing, even though most of them die. Because it goes with the territory, Black just can’t resist giving the aliens more backstory than they already have, destroying every possibility of them being, you know, alien, or mysterious, or threatening instead of just another CGI monster, while adding some random noise about global warming that has of course no actual point in the script at hand.

Otherwise, the film is all the worst parts of Black’s usual shtick without the good one’s. So everyone speaks exactly the same, which of course is like a potty-mouthed naughty twelve-year old boy who thinks he’s particularly clever, the characters are too thin even for the SF action film with heavy emphasis on the action this is supposed to be, and the plot and its solution are clearly of little interest to anyone involved (or they might have come up with a decent climax or an ending that doesn’t promise the next movie to be Super Sentai Predator). It’s all so perfunctorily done I can’t even enjoy it as cheap pulp SF like Aliens vs Predator.

In short, it’s crap. Let’s not even talk about the charisma free zone that is the film’s so-called “ensemble” of actors, or Black’s bland direction. Sure, the action sequences are competent, but in a film on this budget level, technical competence surely isn’t an achievement deserving praise?

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