Film review by Jason Day of The Predator, the latest movie in the sci-fi franchise about a race of intergalactic trophy hunters. A young boy accidentally receives alien articles, leaving a ragtag crew of a scientist and mentality unstable soldiers to prevent the end of humanity.
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Whilst on a mission sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) witnesses a spacecraft crash-land near to him. He escapes with some of the ship’s contents, which are mistakenly mailed back home to his son, a child genius who has Asperger’s Syndrome.
Little Rory (Jacob Tremblay) obsessively studies the articles, alerting the alien to their location and heralding his flight from a research lab where has been nicknamed ‘Predator’.
It’s up to Quinn and a plucky geneticist (Olivia Munn) to prevent the child being killed. But is mankind at risk? Why are Predator and his species making so many visits to Earth?
Cinema has had a predilection for repeating itself ever since its birth in the late 19th century, but of late movie theatres have been awash with a frankly tepid dishwater soup of derivative sequels, rehashes, reboots and remakes.
A soup without flavour…or croutons.
Whether Star Wars is reinvigorated ad nauseam or Marvel Films announce a decade long plan of scraping a gold-lined barrel of profit-assured cinematic revisits, it’s win-win for producers when deciding whether to continue ploughing the same celluloid fields.
Hélas, pauvre critique de cinéma!
Thus, driving to my local multiplex on a Sunday lunchtime (with a hangover – another story) to see the latest instalment in the Predator series of films (this is the most recent of six) was not a pleasant one.
Thankfully, it was a worthwhile one.
It is the mark of a good sequel or reboot that not only is the finished film interesting and/or entertaining, but that it echoes and attempts to surpass the original and usually better movie by either upping the ante of what that film provided, or adding extra nuance and depth to it.
The Predator (the addition of the singular in the title is ironic, since the Predator is very far from being alone) has this in spades.
Those links to the past are maintained by having original Predator producers John Davis and Lawrence Gordon back on-board holding the purse-strings.
Also, composer Harry Jackman helps ensure ties of homage are in place; his score has echoes of Alan Silvestri’s unsettling, strings-led music from three decades ago.
The new film treads a path familiar to the first film by:
- Opening in a forest environment
- A motley crew of military muscle is formed
- They are bumped off Ten Little Indians style by increasingly bloody and imaginative means
- A resourceful women is tacked on
- They collectively theorise about the creature they are stalking, it’s means and motives.
Where The Predator succeeds, like Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and its successors, is it utilises advances in scientific knowledge to give a factual foundation to the admittedly preposterous story.
Genetics, evolutionary theory, ecological science and human developmental disorders are all threaded through the smart (and frequently funny) script to better explain the incredulous set-up.
It’s impeccable suspension of disbelief – it sounds as if these events could actually happen. It’s all just about plausible.
(NB: Of that humour, let me give you the best line. The Predator is described as “an alien Whoopi Goldberg”. I thank you).
The Predator then adds to that stunning first film:
- We are introduced to a massive, 11-foot tall super-Predator
- The notion of human-alien hybridisation is discussed
- We are introduced to ‘renegade’ Predators who seem to want to help save mankind
- There is a better quality crew of army men out to stop them (and funnier)
- They all have mental health issues (very topical with the current focus on MH issues especially in men)
- The female member of the team is not only smarter than the guys, she is also more than capable of handling herself physically and verbally against her male counterparts (in the first film, actress Elipida Carillo was practically silent, a catalyst for the male character’s thinking).
It’s difficult to single out the better actor from these solid performer, but Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes as the cool, perceptive, wise-cracking Nevada just about nudges it.
All this, and the action and suspense is still there, in fine fettle.
See it on the big screen while you can as, for those of ‘that’ persuasion it’s available in 3D (although I saw the 2D version) and, truly, is worth the drive. With or without a hangover.
Cast & Crew
Director: Shane Black. 1hr 47 mins (107mins). Twentieth Century Fox/Davis Entertainment/TSG Entertainment/Canada Film Capital/Dark Castle Entertainment. (15)
Producers: John Davis, Lawrence Gordon.
Writers: Fred Dekker, Shane Black.
Camera: Larry Fong.
Music: Harry Jackman.
Sets: Martin Whist.
Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Kay, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilero, Jake Busey, Yvonne Strahovski.