I will say first that I am not a longtime follower of the Predator series. I hadn’t even seen trailers for the latest entry. I’m as familiar with the icons of the series as any nerd, but “The Predator” is the first in the series I’ve seen. This means that I am unfamiliar with the lore and continuity of the series, and as such will be reviewing the movie on its own, not how it stands within the overall series. This also means that I was unsure of what I was walking into. I was expecting a horror movie, an action flick, or some odd attempt at a combination of the two.
The idea of it being a horror movie dropped fairly quickly. The movie opens with one alien ship being chased by another through space. The ship being chased is damaged and escapes through what amounts to faster-than-light travel and crash lands exactly where everyone who’s ever seen a movie with aliens in it knows it’s going to crash—Earth, or more specifically, Mexico.
Here, it interrupts a team of Army Rangers in what appears to be an operation to rescue hostages held by a drug cartel. The exact nature of the operation is never clearly explained, but that’s not what the moviegoers came for. What they came for was the three hundred ton hulk of alien metal that comes barreling out of the sky and sends Ranger Sniper Quinn McKenna, played by Boyd Holbrook of Netflix’s “Narcos” fame, running to investigate. He finds the ship, the iconic Predator mask and gauntlet, and then the Predator itself proceeds, as expected, to massacre McKenna’s unit before the sniper is able to wound the creature, take the gear and run. Government suits show up to keep things quiet and collect the alien and his artifacts, and McKenna proceeds to mail the gear he found to the United States while he finds his own way back.
That gets the ball rolling. The gear McKenna mails ends up going to his family because he hasn’t paid up on his P.O. box and his son gets ahold of the gear. The government brings in scientist Casey Brackett, played by Olivia Munn, to study the Predator they captured. They send McKenna off to a psych ward to cover up what he’s seen, which is where he meets the rest of his crazy and quirky supporting cast. These characters are a likeable group—in particular Coyle, played by Keegan-Michael Key of Key & Peel fame—and their interplay is what really saves this movie.
The majority of the film is exactly what you would expect it to be. If you have any experience with science fiction movies, you’ll probably spend the whole movie with the next three scenes figured out at any given point. The action is functional, with a few fun scenes, though the majority of it is the cast firing their weapons uselessly at what are, for the most part, bulletproof creatures. The movie’s narrative is its weakest point, with far too many plot holes and contrivances. As likable as the characters are, they are mostlyone note, with some sympathetic but highly problematic interpretations of Tourette’s Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder. But there are a lot of points at which the movie is legitimately funny, and I’d argue it’s worth a watch just for that.
All in all, three out of five. Don’t think about it too hard, and it can be a fun two hours.