Shane Black’s “The Predator” preys on your nostalgia

Illustration by Summer McClure
Illustration by Summer McClure

Reviving ‘80s action hero classics seems to be the new norm in Hollywood. Many of these revivals, however, fail to garner the same admiration the originals earned.

When Shane Black, screenplay writer for 1987 sci-fi thriller “Predator,” was set to helm 2018’s soft reboot “The Predator,” many expected a return to form.The finished product, however, feels like a mixed bag of ‘80s action and modern blockbuster filmmaking that fails to meet its full potential.

“The Predator” follows Boyd Holbrook’s Quinn McKenna and a band full of misfits played by Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key and Olivia Munn in their attempts to protect McKenna’s son from The Predator, a high tech alien bent on hunting down the best human kind has to offer.

Holbrook plays the perfect ‘80s action hero, proving to be the film’s biggest success. He encapsulates everything you need for a strong hero figure with his witty one-liners and unwavering confidence following his every encounter. On top of all this, he brings the film a little more character and heart through his constant mission to protect his son from the looming predatory threat.

The creature effects for the predator are stellar — when they are practical. The realistic effects tap into the nostalgic feeling brought on by classic action movies. However, later on in the film, when the set pieces and suspense increase, Black shys away from the practical roots and tends to focus on computer-generated imagery. These moments, designed as spectacles, miss the intended effect because of the uncanny valley-like effects comparable to a late PlayStation 2 game.

Many of the action set pieces before the film’s final act are still exhilarating. The tight interior set pieces make the action easier to follow, allowing Black to focus on longer takes instead of the constant hard-to-follow editing seen later in the film.

Pacing of earlier scenes in the film is very breakneck, sometimes going from point A to point C without covering B. This is mostly because of certain editing choices and the film’s desire to get into the action and one-liners as quickly as possible.

Yes, the one-liners from the original Predator do make an appearance and some are handled well, but many fail to land — much like the rest of the humor and characters.

Besides McKenna, most of the characters are flat and one-dimensional. They rely solely on defining characteristics which tend to be some type of mental disorder like Tourette’s or PTSD. Instead of delving into these characters and their psyche, the film makes their disorders the butt of a joke in a distasteful way.

Even with some mishandled characters and foolish conflict, “The Predator” succeeds at being a somewhat fun, entertaining action film with heart at its core — and an enjoyable two hours spent if you’re in the mood for some mindless action.

Landon Roberts, Contributing Writer

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