The Predator begins its new life merging Iron Man, comedy and the most essential puzzle piece – an “on the spectrum” kid.
It’s funny but adding comedy and a kid to the Predator wipes away its previous premise. What’s next? “Xenomorph XX121“speaking English with a British accent? Be afraid, be very afraid, it’s coming.
For me, it was either THE PREDATOR or WHITE BOY RICK Monday evening. With Shane Black at the helm, it’s now proof he has a big mortgaged estate in the Hollywood Hills and has been initiated into the Long Pants Club. His lawyer’s assistant told him about the terms of his contract and he signed it.
The movie must be funny, have a kid in it, good and bad predators, a shiny suit and supporting characters that die.
THE PREDATOR hit a big bump (ruining press for everyone but Olivia Munn) when it was revealed that a one scene actor, Steven Wilder Striegel, a longtime friend of Shane Black, is a registered sex offender. Munn, in her first big budget franchise-spewing movie, informed Fox and Striegel’s brief scene with her was cut.
Co-writing the screenplay with Fred Dekker and directing, Black added a kid. A kid “on the spectrum” which is now code for “brilliant but afraid to be touched” and comedy. The Gilles de Rais mutilations are for the diehard Predator fans.
The comedic sci-fi “thriller” stars NARCO’s Boyd Holbrook (so terrific in the first two seasons). He plays U.S. military sniper, Quinn McKenna. He and his team are in the jungle hunting narcos when an alien spacecraft crashes to Earth. McKenna is the only one left standing in the melee that follows. Realizing that there may be a book, a movie, and perhaps a Broadway musical in his future, or at least eBay money, he picks up some alien junk from the spacecraft and ships it back home to his P.O. box.
Guess what happens? If you go to movies, you know. I hate filmmakers who use this device: McKenna’s friendless and shy son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) brings the box inside, doesn’t tell his mother his father sent it and opens the box! Rory takes possession of its contents: a mask and arm gear.Rory doesn’t tell his mother, Emily (Yvonne Strahovski). Can we let his bad behavior slide? He is “on the spectrum.”
A secret U.S. department of alien hunting knows all about the decades of the seasonal Predator activity going on in the world’s jungles. The higher-ups are not interested in narcos. They know McKenna saw something and he is “read in” to the program. The U.S. has caught one of the Predators and he is strapped on a table, supposedly sedated. A biologist not wearing hotpants, Casey Bracket (Munn), is brought in to take a look at the prize. She shows her expertise by being the one scientist in a room filled with white smocked men, to notice that the alien has some human DNA.
Forgetting about McKenna’s highly secret mission and dead comrades, he is shipped off to prison with a group of Section 8 troublemakers.
Meanwhile, the shackled Predator wakes up and makes Aztec sacrifices of everyone except Bracket. There is a momentary “thing” between them. She might be wearing sneakers instead of high heels, but he does have some human testosterone in his DNA.
Chained up in a van, McKenna meets his new traveling buddies, Nebraska Williams (Trevante Rhodes), Coyle (Keeegan-Michael Key), Baxley (Thomas Jane), Lynch (Alfie Allen) and Nettles (Augusto Aguilera). These guys have spent much of their time telling jokes and behaving rudely. They are written as chaotic, frenzied characters.
When a meaner, bigger Predator attacks the secret alien-keeping facility, McKenna and “The Loonies” break free.
It’s a fact that anyone who works for a secret program within the U.S. government must know how to fire heavy weapons. Bracket wasn’t just hunched over a chemistry set working on her Ph.D. She was learning martial arts, weapons, leaping from planes and savage techniques on how to fight men and beasts.
Remember the theory that the creatures were on holiday to Earth for sport? Black decided to throw that scenario out. He’s written a new Predator purpose. These Predators have an agenda. It’s not “Hunting Season” on their planet. Its bigger than that.
So what exactly do “they” want? Well, now we know. They speak English! What a disappointment. Alien is not alien. And with language comes emotions, feelings and caring. There are good Predators and bad Predators.
Are Predators enough to serve as villains? No, we require villains with dialogue. Sterling K. Brown plays Traeger, the man in charge at the secret facility. He’s all gums and big smiles. His slot in the Hollywood template is called The Almost Mad Scientist.
Traeger gets hold of Rory since the kid has made some inter-species connection with the Predators. Rory refuses to tell Traegar where the big mothership is. But when they do find it (this is kind of hazy) an entirely organized science team is already there taking dimensions and making drapes. Only Rory can open the “pod bay door.”
I cringed at the ending. No, please! Now IRON MAN will fight the Predators. And Iron Man and the lead Predator will have communication devices in their helmets, so they can talk – or trash talk – each other.
I really liked Nimród Antal’s 2010 take on the franchise, PREDATORS, starring Adrien Brody. But it took place in a jungle! And there were no kids around.
Victoria Alexander is a member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/. Victoria lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at firstname.lastname@example.org.