Let me start by stating that “The Predator” was a fun film. I rather enjoyed the first two films, and much of what made them so enjoyable was the visceral nature of 80’s and 90’s action films. Shane Black did a fantastic job at capturing that imagery while showing more of the mythos of the Predators. With that in mind, there are some blatant short-falls that significantly weigh this latest instalment only just above the “AVP” cross-overs.
Considering the pedigree of this film comes from one of the original actors, one would be right to assume that the director would have keen insight to what the Predators are capable of. While the film does dig further into the way that the alien race operates and just how advanced they are, that’s one of the only real accolades to the story. The biggest detractor to this particular instalment is that there are so many inside jokes and references from the first couple of films that it makes the audience wonder if it’s a continuation of the story or a parody. While some of the references are genuinely comical and somewhat help the series as a whole (i.e. debating the accuracy of the name given to the species), many elements of the script over-emphasize some of the worst aspects of the original. I suppose that would be because Shane is reminiscing his role as the character that randomly forced poorly conceived jokes and quips.
While it’s generally understood that Hawkins was intentionally written to be “that one guy” who just wants to be liked, it seems that this film was told by Hawkins. It desperately wants to be liked by the audience, even going so far as to add blatant hints to at least one sequel. If I only reviewed films for how “likeable” or “enjoyable” a film was, The Predator would score much better.
To close this on a good note, it’s good to see that many of the special effects and creatures were still practical rather than computer graphics added in post. That’s really one thing that many films should learn from this. It’s not that “The Predator” wasn’t an enjoyable film, it just seems like it was trying to be too faithful to spirit of the originals. Again, there are some merits to that — being that light-hearted action movies are few-and-far-between these days — but this film just seems . . . out of place.