THE PREDATOR (Directed by Shane Black, 107 minutes, USA, 2018)
BY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC It’s been eight years since the Predator last stalked our multiplexes and he’s back thanks to director Shane Black (who played Hawkins in the original), who reunites the franchise with its 80’s action roots. To fully realize this vision Shane has also enlisted co-writer Fred Dekker the man who gave us such ‘80s monster classics as The Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps and House. Given those two pedigrees, you know what to expect here, the film is as heavy on the laughs as it is the action and gore, which is a hard line to tread; but The Predator does without skipping a beat.
The film focuses on Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) a decorated military sniper who is forced to take on the deadliest hunters in the galaxy when his son comes into possession of a piece of Predator technology. Quinn is assisted in his rescue by a squad of certifiably insane military outcasts who unknowingly get trapped in a civil war between two subsets of Predator. Not only does Quinn have to contend with the Predators to save his son, but a secret military organization called Stargazer, as well. Led by Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), Stargazer has been keeping tabs on the Predator’s visits, which have been becoming increasingly frequent over the years since 1987. Unlike previous entries, the new one devotes a lot of time to building out the mythology of the Predator, using the foundation laid by the previous three films and thankfully ignoring the AVP series.
The Predator is filled with the kind of meta humor and razor-sharp one-liners that are sadly absent from action fare nowadays. This dialog is paired with some surprisingly memorable characters, which is no easy feat when dealing with an ensemble this talented who are constantly one upping one another. The film also somehow deals up a touching story of a father who happens to murder folks for a living and his autistic son, which is paired with one of the most gruesome body counts you will bear witness to on screen this year. Leaning heavily on the score of the original The Predator not only gives you a new Predator film, but a celebration of the series filled with clever call backs and in-jokes. My one and only issue with the film is that a series that up until this point has been very standalone with its entries, Black pulls a page from the Marvel playbook to setup the next adventure in the film’s final moments. But if the next film is anything like this, I guess I am definitely more than okay with that.