By: Jonathan Pabico
Get to the chopper, Predator fans! Director Shane Black’s The Predator has arrived in theatres. Having a sizable role in the original 1987 Predator movie, Black (best known for the disappointing Iron Man 3) pays satisfying homage to this sci-fi classic through his own movie’s iconic music score and Predator costume designs. Surprisingly enough, Black delivers a worthwhile story that encompasses earth-shattering action sequences and delivers a fresh take on the Predator franchise.
Although the film features excessive gore, the story’s action sequences still make Black’s movie thrilling to watch. The action perfectly balances with the film’s forest terrain, providing an unsettling tone for the narrative. Subsequently, the story’s action becomes a fierce foreground that, combined with sharp lighting and harsh colours, uses the Predator’s cold-hearted ruthlessness during these sequences to illustrate the film’s gripping world.
Black uses the film’s Predators to instill social commentary about what it is like to be an outsider in the world. He frames how different these alien hunters and their culture are from human society to demonstrate how isolated and alienated the film’s human characters are from their own communities. In doing so, Black makes these characters worthy of empathy. He bravely explores personal themes in an otherwise simple action flick that evokes a deeper dimension previously absent in other Predator installments.
The film’s energetic cast is more lighthearted than the previous ensemble from the 2010 Predators starring Adrien Brody. Despite this fresh change in tone for the film’s cast, there are only a few memorable dynamics between these actors, especially between the secondary characters. Some of their dialogue consist of vivid one-liners, offbeat backstories, and convenient exposition that detract from the film’s plot, and limits character development. Consequently, the cast are not as compatible as the actors in Predators. However, Olivia Munn (Casey Bracket) is a fierce force in her portrayal of a tenacious scientist.
As for comic relief, the characters’ vulgar camaraderie fits their personas, but gets too inappropriate in some scenes. Although the film’s climactic bout compensates for these scenes, Shane Black and Fred Dekker’s script provides bravado that mostly seems forced. However, Black also uses a creative approach by arming the film’s main Predator with a twisted sense of humour that humanizes this inhuman creature.
Despite issues from the film’s cast and humour, actor Jacob Tremblay (Rory McKenna) overshadows these flaws and the movie’s other characters. Tremblay’s portrayal of an autistic child conveys heartwarming innocence, and dramatic purity for a narrative filled with copious violence. His brief scenes with Boyd Holbrook (Quinn McKenna) provide a touching father-son relationship that imbues the story with its emotional weight.
Overall, Shane Black’s The Predator is an entertaining sci-fi action flick that offers a fresh direction to a classic series. Although the graphic violence is gruesome and the shortcomings hinder the story, Black’s film delivers raw action sequences with a light-hearted cast that overall honour the Predator franchise.