While the cinematic fate of Alien is currently in a state of undetermined limbo (Neill Blomkamp having moved on to RoboCop and Ridley Scott having become something of a franchise pariah), a new Predator film hits theaters nationwide. For the cinematic illiterate, director Shane Black is little more than the polarizing figure that helmed Iron Man 3. Little do they know that along with penning the Lethal Weapon films, Black boasts two of the best action films of the 21st century; Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys. Can Shane work his Black magic filmmaking prowess on The Predator? In short, no.Following an interplanetary opener that involves starships clashing against the black curtain of space, we are introduced to our imprisoned protagonist, Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook from Logan). After an unfortunate close encounter with a downed spacecraft, the military minded McKenna is marked as a threat to national security. When his son unlocks the old man’s swindled alien tech, it is up to McKenna and his crew of court martial misfits (Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane and Olivia Munn) to save young Rory (Jacob Tremblay, recognized for his performance in the critically lauded Room) as well as the rest of the human race.
Despite some fun Easter eggs that include a Predator spear replete with xenomorph tailed tip or a cameo appearance by Jake Busey (son of Predator 2’s Gary Busey), the film’s an overly comical retread of moments already covered in previous franchise installments. The Robert Rodriguez produced Predators already featured Predator hunting dogs as well as a larger predator side-species. Aliens vs Predator: Requiem already placed the Predator in a suburban environment. Certain aspects of the plot even manage to mirror Jurassic World, such as using a child lead who utilizes his on the spectrum perspective and savant know-how to sidestep falling prey to big screen, big green, cinema nightmares.The film is a tonal mess that sacrifices suspense for slapstick humor. While the film admittedly does not hold back on gore, Requiem taught us that guts alone bring no glory. If nothing else, The Predator is better than the two AvP films (which really is not saying much). It is also significantly worse than the Schwarzenegger original (or for that matter the Adrian Brody led third installment). At its best, Black’s recent Predator flick rivals Predator 2 in abject mediocrity and at its worst, it is a trope laden yuck fest for tweens. Hold out for the Video on demand release.