There was a unique opportunity here to create a Predator film that ticked all the boxes; at their core, the Predator films have been about the hunt; essentially they are monster movies that contain more tension and action than they do horror; but it seems this formula is illusive. The only thing worse than watching a movie that gets everything wrong, is watching one that gets a few things right, because then you know the writers, director, and studio were aware of which approach would be the most faithful, but chose to ignore it.
The Predator continues its story long after the events of Predator (1987), with the legendary Predator aliens arriving on Earth yet again, it is up to a ragtag group of misfit soldiers to figure out why they’ve come back to Earth. Right off the bat there’s a good chance that when you enter this film you’ll be convinced that it’ll deliver fun and engaging entertainment, and in many regards this film hits its marks accurately, utilizing comedy as its weapon — from the wisecrack jokes, banter, and ball-busting, it’s clear comedy is the language that director Shane Black speaks well. Additionally we are met with a well rounded cast that have a honed chemistry between one another, making dull scenes significantly more entertaining. But this is all short lived, as it slowly begins to reveal glaring inconsistencies within its increasingly dense story.
At their core the Predator films are simple; the concept of man vs beast, the hunter becoming the hunted, a true test of who has the superior mind of a warrior – all with a Hollywood spin. This man vs beast concept is set up plainly in how the original Predator (1987) film is constructed; simply put, it’s meant to be an action fueled tale of ragtag soldiers doing anything they can to prevent themselves from becoming prey. Less is more when it comes to the Predator films, they turn out more enjoyable when they focus on building an isolated and tense feeling – much like films such as The Thing (1982), Alien (1979), and 30 Days of Night (2007). Isolation is key, but unfortunately this film seems intent on crowding its narrative with as many people as it can.
The visual effects show their shakiness when they introduce the Mega Predator – a fully CGI predator almost twice the standard size. However the standard predator still relies on a full costume and practical effects; this makes the standard predator feel real, threatening, and truly makes it feel part of the world. Had they stuck with practical effects the film would have held up far better in the long run. Unfortunately the eagerness to outgun and outmatch the previous threat still remains common in these flicks, whether they’re hybrids, different species, or genetically modified versions – it all becomes too much, ultimately losing sight of what made the Predator an interesting monster in the first place.
The Predator is a film that would have thrived in an isolated setting and while it gets a few things right here and there it is ultimately let down by being too complicated for its own good. While its characters provide plenty of laughs, The Predator struggles to capture the essence of the hunt, ultimately getting caught up in its own stuffy backstory.