In the beginning (it was 1987), there was “Predator” vs. Schwarzenegger. Audiences swarmed to see it, prompting the studio to decree: “Let there be a franchise.” And so it came to pass.
In 2004, there was “AVP: Alien vs. Predator.” Cage match of the extraterrestrials! (Actually, it took place in a pyramid.) Another audience swarm. A franchise reborn.
Now comes “The Predator,” featuring the Predator vs. an even bigger Predator. Two, count ‘em, two monsters, with big bad fangs and swirling dreadlocks, doing their damnedest to tear each other to shreds.
From writer-director Shane Black comes this latest “Predator.” He’s the man behind “Lethal Weapon,” “The Last Boy Scout,”
“Last Action Hero” (writer), and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” “Iron Man 3” and “The Nice Guys” (writer-director).
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His writing is distinctive. Which is to say every other line of his dialogue features some variation on the word $$@*%@$^%!! By his F-bombs shall you know him. Men, women: all let fly with identical fervor. Equality!
From outer space they come, these Predators. To hunt humans. With weapons of the highest tech. With a cloaking gizmo to render them invisible. To rip, rend, tear and eviscerate. To splatter the screen with red stuff. Black does like his gore. (He insisted on being allowed to bring the R-rated mayhem as a condition of his accepting directing duties.)
Similar to the scenario of the original movie, it’s a band of grizzled soldier types who battle the alien menaces. Missing, however, is a formidable leading-man presence in the Arnold Schwarzenegger mold.
The top guy in this outfit, as played by Boyd Holbrook, is so lacking in charisma that he often seems to vanish even when he’s central to a scene. Those alien cloaking devices having nothing on this guy.
Black portrays the Holbrook character’s former-soldier comrades in arms as a scroungy bunch of PTSD-plagued twitchy types, literally in the case of a character played by Thomas Jane, who spasms and fidgets in the grip of Tourette syndrome.
These guys, played in addition to Jane by Keegan-Michael Key, Augusto Aguilera, Alfie Allen and Trevante Rhodes, supply the movie’s humor in the form of smart-aleck remarks liberally laced with sexism and other non-PC gibes. They’re also on hand to be casualties.
A foulmouthed lady scientist — Equality! — played by Olivia Munn and the young son of Holbrook’s character, a kid with autism who is a kind of savant genius played by Jacob Tremblay, round out the cast.
Oh, and did I mention ravening Predator dogs from outer space? The movie has them too.
The horror, the horror.
2 stars out of 4
Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn, Keegan-Michael Key
Director: Shane Black
Running time: 1:47
Rated: R for strong bloody violence, language throughout, and crude sexual references