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Feature Article

The Predator Movie Review: It's A Bloody, Funny Mess

Who's up for some violence, cursing, and gore?

Just like Halloween, The Predator is an iconic franchise beloved by many, but with a spotty track record. The original 1987 film not only gave us two US governors, but had great one liners, memorable characters, and cool and bloody action scenes. Having one of the co-stars of the original film make a sequel seemed like a neat idea, especially since Shane Black has become a prominent director in his own right. Unfortunately, he tries to create a modern take on the franchise while delivering the same feeling of a '90s movie, and the mixture doesn't quite work.

While introducing the world premiere of The Predator at the Toronto International Film Festival, writer/director Black talked about wanting to give the film the same feeling of watching the original, while updating it to 2018 and introducing a Dirty Dozen twist. Unfortunately, the two never mix as well as Black seems to think they could, and the final product is his first film that feels like it might have been made by a group of studio executives listing what they think the audience wants to see.

The most obvious evidence of this is the excessive use of gore and profanity--this movie really earns its R rating. Do you want to see some blood? Well, The Predator is catering to you, based on reports of reshoots that were made to enhance the action scenes. The first time we see the titular alien hunter on Earth, its camouflage is ruined by blood dropping from a bisected human hanging from a tree. It's a promising start, though it only gets crazier from there.

From there the film becomes more complicated and bloody, as Black decides to divide the narrative into four separate storylines that clash together in the second half. Boyd Holbrook fails to be funny or charismatic in the role of Quinn, a sniper who runs into a stranded Predator. After a fight, he leaves with not only his life, but some sweet Predator tech. Then an alien-obsessed biologist named Casey (Olivia Munn) is hired to help the cartoonishly evil government scientist Traeger (Sterling K. Brown, having the time of his life). He quickly sweeps the scene of the spaceship crash under the rug and sends Quinn away with a group of "loonies" they want to keep quiet. When Quinn's son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) accidentally activates the Predator tech his father mailed home, he attracts the attention of a genetically enhanced Predator chasing one of its own, who comes to wreak havoc on Anytown, USA. If that sounds like a lot, it's because it is.

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While each section of the story has the potential for a cool new revelation about the Predator universe, and the characters are for the most part likable, the different storylines feel too disjointed to really make an impact once they all merge for a mandatory big third act showdown with the Ultra Predator. To try and make the plot seem less complicated, Black and his co-writer Fred Dekker try to quicken the pace by inserting gory action sequences shortly after every dump of exposition. Those craving an R-rated The Predator will get their money's worth, as spines get ripped out and every part of the human body is shredded to pieces at one point or another. However, it is hard not to notice the extensive reshoots, as quite a bit of the digital effects look unfinished, and the blood looks like someone decided to paint the walls red at the last moment.

In his attempt to recapture the feeling of the original film, Black sends a new group of former soldiers fighting against an alien hunter, only this time they are seriously funny. Without a doubt, the best part about The Predator is watching the banter between the side characters, especially Brown, Keegan-Michael Key, and Thomas Jane. The jokes are genuinely funny, and Black’s signature witty dialogue is at its best, though it quickly falls into dude-bro territory when it tries to copy the '80s machismo and oiled muscles of the original. Worst is when the film tries to subvert the same machismo theme by plaguing the main group of soldiers with conditions ranging from Tourette's to PTSD. Unfortunately, all of that goes away once every character becomes a trigger-happy maniac in the third act.

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Predator movies don't have a great track record when it comes to female characters--both the original and 2010's Predators have exactly one female character each. The Predator has a whopping two. In 2018. While Munn's character promises to be a smart badass that can go toe-to-toe with the male protagonists, she eventually becomes just another person shooting a gun. And Yvonne Strahovski as Quinn’s estranged wife is criminally underused and forgotten by the plot.

Nevertheless, those who are in it for the gore, the action, and the “your mom” jokes will have a blast. There are cool Easter eggs and meta commentary on the franchise as a whole, but no matter how funny (it is seriously funny) the film is, and no matter how much the ending wants to sell a sequel, The Predator is hindered by unpolished visuals and the feeling that its violence and tone have been needlessly punched up.

The GoodThe Bad
Side characters steal the showOverly complex story structure
Jokes are genuinely funnyCGI Looks unpolished
Cool Easter and meta series commentaryConclusion is too open-ended, seemingly to leave room for a sequel
Gore and violence that fans will enjoyExcessive gore feels needlessly punched up and might be too much for some viewers
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Rafael Motamayor

Rafael Motamayor (@RafaelMotamayor) is a recovering cinephile and freelance writer from Venezuela currently freezing his ass off in cold, grey, Norway. He likes writing about horror despite being the most scary-cat person he knows.

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Avatar image for joe_b1_kenobi

Just remake the original. Simple. Having one predator made for a much better movie. Same with Alien.

Avatar image for julianboxe

I want my money back.

It's like Shane (who was an actor of the first movie) , didn't get ANYTHING about what made the movie he participated a great movie.

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi

Also, about "Predators", a suggestion:

1. Watch the first movie
2. Watch "Predators"
3. Notice that both have the same script (same events, same scenario, almost same weapons)

A ripoff of itself. That one was disappointing.

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi

very good analysis of the predator Lore in general, only a tiny oversight:

"Rule nº1: Humans and Predators can't be friends"

Predators keep coming back to earth because they see humans not as cattle, but as worthy adversaries. So there is some respect in that regard.
That is why, at some point in the extensive Predator story-line, the human known as Machiko Noguchi was accepted in their ranks and even allowed to hunt with some of the clans (they even made an armor just for her).

Regards. I like when you do this kind of movie-related videos.

Avatar image for sebb

So this movie started out as a horror movie, right? The first trailers made it clear it was a horror movie. Then the last trailer came out and the entire tone changed to comedy and now this article confirms it to be a comedy with seriously funny characters. I'm totally confused and pissed to be honest. I thought this was a horror movie. Instead it's a freakin' comedy. WTH is going on?!

Avatar image for alien33

@sebb: Well, tbh Predator movies were never "horror". They were sci-fi / action with some eerie moments thrown in there (especially in the 1st half of each film where the the true killer was not yet unveiled). They also had cheese 80's humour ("Stick around", "Knock, knock", "I'm a sexual Tyrannosaur" etc)

Avatar image for sebb

@alien33: Well all the trailers of this movie I saw prior to the last one had a very clear horror atmosphere. I don't think I was dreaming, lol. Now they've shown it to be a comedy, lol, so alright, I'll go see it just for the aliens and special effects, and enjoy the comedy aspect.

Avatar image for deactivated-5d4c0b80dcd76

I’m not seeing it in the theater, but will look forward to it. I watched Predator 2 last weekend do regret never fully watching it until now. It’s legitimately a great sequel AND it made Danny Glover look badass!

I’m still waiting for the Predators to ally up with th humans, outside of the Arcade game.

Avatar image for ticklemepink

@mbrogz3000: I never understood why the 2nd caught flack. As a kid, I owned the VHS tape and really enjoyed the hell out of it. My mom allowed me to have it, which was nice.

Avatar image for alien33

@ticklemepink: The Keyes character ruined it a bit for me, but still it's a solid 7/10 imo.

Avatar image for fenbops

Only two women? Holy shit that’s put me off watching it.

Also what’s wrong with excessive gore? Films by and large are far too safe these days cause they’re 12A (UK) and rarely have any, might be a nice change to see some over the top blood spraying everywhere.

Sounds fun enough, big silly gory action film, prob give it a watch.

Avatar image for scatterbrain007

@fenbops: The not enough females in the movie argument shouldn't really have any bearing on whether a movie is good or not. I didn't understand that "strike" either. I'm Hispanic, and I don't get all bent out of shape if there aren't "enough Mexicans" in a movie. Why the hell would I care? They either didn't think to do that or didn't want to.

They casted exactly the amount of females they needed to for this movie, which is whatever friggin' number they felt was right for the movie.

Avatar image for skairipa

I need a new Predator game right now.

Avatar image for Jesse-Fett

@skairipa: I agree, now I am hardcore team xenomorph, but good lord is predator underutilized!

Avatar image for moviespot


Avatar image for VampireLord123

I dont completely uderstand how one gore and violence can be a good and a bad thing at the same time. But, I think it means for people looking for carnage it is a good thing but for people not into that will a bad time.

Avatar image for JIMDOG4442002

Didnt really seem like a predator movie.

Avatar image for ripleyscat

What do yo mean: "...the excessive 2-hour-plus running time"? The film is only 107 minutes long, including credits.

Avatar image for mrougeau

@ripleyscat: Thanks for pointing that out, it was an error on our part.

Avatar image for DN3D1997


They think the hour is 50 min....ffs!

Avatar image for nikolistary

Keegan Key is quickly becoming, if not already, the Kel to Peele's Keenan.

Avatar image for RELeon

Thats too bad. I was really only wanting to see Predator for the intricate, complex plot, along with the deep and thought-provoking dialogue.......Shame. *Sarcasm*

Avatar image for julianboxe

@RELeon: Newsflash, an action movie does not need to be a brain-dead CGI fest and have incessant comical relief.

Avatar image for phili878

@RELeon: You best stop watching movies then. How the hell is a modern movie able to give you all of that within 90-110 minutes??? This isn't the 80s and 90s anymore, now all you see is as much CGI as possible, so either watch series only or stop watching movies (I won't blame you btw).

Avatar image for RELeon

@phili878: Lol it was just some sarcasm. I know going into a movie like Predator, I am not going for anything other than action and gore. Just thought it was funny the article kind of complained that the movie wasn't much beyond gore.

Avatar image for phili878

@RELeon: Aight, nm !!

Avatar image for metalion

H.R. Giger designed the Xenomorph not Stan Winston!

Avatar image for grynshock

@metalion: wasn’t just me then :)

If you havbt already, watch Jodorowskys Dune

Avatar image for restatbonfire


Avatar image for mandzilla

I can't wait to see it! :D

Avatar image for risingdawn

The humour puts me off, watching the trailer and it just felt a bit.. off, for a Predator film anyway.

But I shall reserve judgement until I've seen it anyway, can't say I've ever disliked any of the films so hopefully that will continue, I don't imagine liking it as much as the others though.

Avatar image for Jesse-Fett

@risingdawn: They put out of place humor in every thing now cause it's a formula that works for Marvel movies. I'm getting sick of it quite honestly, how ever I am still excited for this and will give it the benefit of the doubt.