Let’s finally finish this series
The Predator is the newest attempt to revitalize an already broken series by Shane Black. Black made some incredibly stupid decisions on set (like allowing a known sex offender a role), so without even watching the film we know there are going to be some problems. However, Black played Hawkins in the original, so I think a lot of people were expecting something great.
What we end up with is certainly in the running for the worst Predator film to date, and one of the worst films of 2018. Both monikers are impressive given the shit year of film 2018 was and the shit series that the Predator has become.
Sometimes with film, we can spot the one thing that hurt the movie. When we do these things, it is like we could triage this one moment and excise the weakness, leaving behind a solid (or at least enjoyable) experience. Here, there are so many problems I am not entirely sure where one would even begin.
With four writing credits to the film, and uneven editing, this film most certainly suffered reshoots, which I think is something companies need to avoid. We ended up with a horrific tonal mess. We lurch from family drama, non-PC comedy, action, government conspiracies, to franchise building from moment to moment,
Aside from an uneven tone, we also get some horrific writing. None of the characters can deliver the tough-guy language in the same way good old Arnold could, and this is a noticeable weakness. The action/sci-fi stuff is just kind of stupid. The humor is unbalanced (though Key does have some good lines), but for every line that is humorous we get ten that fall flat.
A lot of these weaknesses could be forgiven if we had some decent action, but we don’t. The set pieces look cheap. The jungle settings (when we rarely get them) look manufactured, the in-town sequences are poorly lit, edited, and staged. The only decent shots come towards the end of the film, but by then you have already completely checked out.
Perhaps the greatest mistake this time around was having (once again) too many human characters. We have our grizzled vet, who is being set up as the fall guy to cover a Predator attack, his wife and son, the group of “loonies,” the evil government goons, the less evil government goons, a scientist, two predators, predator dogs, and schoolyard bullies. Read that group of characters, in what universe can these groups function well in a 100-minute movie? The answer is: they can’t. We have needlessly one-dimensional villains who would work better in a satire than anything else. The other groups don’t mesh well, and lead to the tonal problems.
If someone told me this film was three or four scripts shoved together and fed halfway into a paper-shredder, I would believe it. The idea of damaged vets banding together to find a predator could work, the idea of a scientist wanting to understand more about them could work, following a government agency determined to cover this up could work. However, they don’t work together.
The shoe-horned franchise building crap simply doesn’t work, either. I had hoped that the abomination of cinema that the new Mummy film gave us would fix this horrid trend of making a movie for the sole purpose of making a sequel.
I had planned to be more sarcastic, but this film is just exhausting. In 30+ years we have had one good film and a lot of garbage. I think it is finally time to let this franchise die off once and for all.