Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) and his team get quite a surprise when they are out and about in Mexico. Not a particularly nice surprise, however: A heavily armed alien suddenly stands in front of them, tearing up everything that gets in its way. At least Quinn manages to stun the invader and send parts of his equipment home. For safety. What he didn’t expect, however, was that his son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) would get his hands on the guns. Because now other aliens are hunting him, and only Quinn, a group of psychologically damaged ex-soldiers and the biologist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) can still stop the monster.
Actually, you shouldn’t be surprised if Hollywood digs up an old film again to sell it as new. Hardly a week goes by without a sequel, prequel, midquel, remake or reboot that wants to make money with a well-known name. And yet some people might have been a little irritated when the announcement: Predator will be continued. Seriously? Now? At a time when not even large sci-fi series like Alien or Star Trek are convincing at the box offices, should it fix one that was always only larger direct-to-video cinema anyway?
Skepticism was also announced when it became known that Shane Black would be responsible for the restart. On the one hand, he’s a no-brainer, after all, he co-wrote the script for the first part as early as 1987, albeit without public credits, and even played a supporting role. On the other hand, the American is primarily known for buddy comedies. He wrote his first screenplay for Lethal Weapon, most recently he directed and wrote The Nice Guys, which is reminiscent of this high phase of humorous action strips from the 80s. And that is what the no-nonsense hunter should take care of from distant space? Does it work?
Yes and no. Anyone who hoped that the invasion of the deadly aliens could also be somehow exciting should bury this hope right away. The action scenes always look like the earthly heroes firing to the huge intruder, who is however too heavily armored for it to impress him in any way. It’s understandable, if you only have one antagonist, you can’t risk anything here. It’s just not very exciting when the process and result are always fixed in advance. It’s not even the case that the action scenes deliver anything special in terms of staging, neither camera work nor settings help to make the dark mass any more interesting.
But The Predator, which premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, is surprisingly fun. You can stand whatever you want to the new trend of building some pithy onliners everywhere. You are actually entertaining here. There are two main points that give the film advantages over the competition. For one thing, the humor is sometimes surprisingly nasty. On the other hand, it was a good idea to put a group of discarded soldiers at the side of the hero, all of whom have combat experience, but who have such a thing on the waffle that they are more funny than conventional macho corners.
Not that things aren’t really getting down to business here. There is shooting and slaughter as if there was no tomorrow – which is also true for many. Guts are allowed to fly through the air, body parts are severed, that’s quite a splatter festival, which is sometimes held there. And at least some of these death scenes are staged more creatively. Much more creative than the story, which is only noticed when it’s particularly idiotic again. But that’s just part of it, makes the fun: When in The Predator a wildly mixed up horde of non-wannabe heroes shoots through the area is the deliberately stupid and tongue-in-cheek action cinema, which is also appealing through biting comments and allusions. Some more obvious, some less. If, for example, Jake Busey plays the scientist Sean Keyes in a supporting role, whose father was played by Jake’s real father Gary Busey, then that’s more than cynical recycling of old Hollywood scraps.
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