Main cast: Boyd Holbrook (Quinn McKenna), Trevante Rhodes (Nebraska Williams), Jacob Tremblay (Rory McKenna), Olivia Munn (Casey Bracket), Sterling K Brown (Will Traeger), Keegan-Michael Key (Coyle), Thomas Jane (Baxley), Alfie Allen (Lynch), Augusto Aguilera (Nettles), Yvonne Strahovski (Emily McKenna), Jake Busey (Sean Keyes), Niall Matter (Sapir), and Brian A Prince (The Predator)
Director: Shane Black
While watching The Predator, which contrary to expectations is a genuine sequel rather than a reboot, I am reminded of the much maligned Alien Resurrection. Joss Whedon wrote that movie without paying any regard to the tone of the previous movies, and the result was more like a gory action-comedy and hence complete dissonance. It’s the same here. Co-written by the same guy who wrote horror comedies in the past (The Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps, etc), what results is something akin to Alien Resurrection, only this time it’s far worse because this movie manages to be both simultaneously boring and obnoxious. Every cast member given instructions to become an even over the top parody of Ron Perlman’s character in that movie while the script also keeps the very reason people come watch this movie – murder scenes – to a minimum.
The predator aliens are back, and this time PTSD-struck, divorced army dude cliché Quinn McKenna is the sole survivor of his team of… three men, I guess, who got squashed by everyone’s dreadlocked alien. Naturally Quinn steals some of its gear and sends it to the house of his ex-wife, because that’s what you do to the kid you love – send things belonging to a bloodthirsty, efficient, merciless alien to a special kid. When our idiot hero later threatens to kill anyone who puts the lives of his ex-wife and son in danger, he may as well shank himself because nothing will have happened to them if he hadn’t been such a fucking moron. God.
Oh, and the special kid is played by Jacob Tremblay, who will eventually grow up and hate his managers and agents because they made him be known as that brat who plays not-there-upstairs kids in a way that will make Haley Joel Osment shake his head in pity. Like all Hollywood special kids, Rory can magically activate, understand, and handle alien stuff because mental handicap gives you awesome powers.
Anyway, Quinn is taken in by the army, so that he can be set up as the fall guy in order for the military to keep the whole alien-among-us thing hushed up, but when the alien starts making a mess, he and a gang of former soldiers along with a biologist Casey Bracket take it upon themselves to go after the monster. Naturally, the monster goes straight for Rory because it only wants its stuff back, but damn if we are somehow supposed to be on the side of and cheering for the asshole thief and his gang of loonybins instead. Seriously, fuck Quinn. Fuck him with a rusty chainsaw.
God, Quinn. I don’t know what the movie is aiming for, but every line that comes out of this character’s mouth is either patronizing, insulting, insufferable, dumb, rude, or more often than not, all of the previous. And it’s all unearned smugness, because there is nothing here that shows Quinn to be good at what he is supposed to be good at. He’s just a used douche that is somehow cast as a protagonist I’m supposed to root for when he’s the moron who put his ex-wife and son in danger in the first place.
Everyone else has a pointless tic. Sterling K Brown’s character chews gums and mint fresheners just because. He and Trevante Rhodes’s characters constantly sprout annoying, unfunny one-liners because black characters are only allowed to be sassy these days. One guy has Tourette’s syndrome, the other one keeps claiming that the world is ending. Everyone mugs at the camera and overacts, as if they were seven-year olds on their first trip to a nudie bar instead of adults. As for Olivia Munn, well, let’s just say that she’s far better at sniffing out registered sex offenders than acting, as she gives a performance more at home at some low-budget Z-grade flick starring college kids randomly dragged onto the set because the director only had a budget of $200. Maybe she should find a new boyfriend that can help get get cast in some crime-oriented TV show; shame that Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is long dead.
Here’s the thing: this movie is only a bit over one hour and thirty minutes long. Imagine my shock when, in a bored stupor, I check my watch and realize that one hour has passed with the body count being only some random, no-name mooks that show up for a few seconds before being dispatched by the alien. The bulk of the movie isn’t about man versus alien, it’s this bunch of tic-ridden, loathsome, overacting, attention-hogging boors stinking up the screen trying to be funny and failing miserably. Seriously – every time the movie threatens to bring on a little tension or suspense, these characters will just throw out a lame one-liner every minute to defuse any possibility that the movie is ever going to be watchable.
The nail on the coffin is how there is no heroism in this movie. That’s a failing of Alien Resurrection as well, as Ripley was transformed into a cold and emotionless observer instead of someone who was thrust into a situation in which she had to protect others from the alien, but that movie wasn’t that bad because the characters did know when to stop with the one-liners and react more believably to various situations when the need arose. Here, however, nobody is a hero – everyone’s either a douchebag or a bag of unfunny tics, and as a result, I don’t give a damn whether these poorly drawn characters live or die. In fact, I’d rather they die, eviscerated in gory ways, because at least then there would be something to watch.
But there isn’t much man versus action here, and it’s just a bunch of twats coming up with ways to kill people with atrocious “comedy”. I can only wonder whether the people behind The Predator know how human beings behave and talk, or whether they are familiar with concepts such as comedic timing, good movie structure, and coherence.