For my reviews of the other Predator films, click the following links:
In commemoration of the upcoming release of THE PREDATOR (2018), I will be reviewing all of the Predator films, not counting the Alien Vs. Predator films because they’re not solo Predator films, director Paul W.S. Anderson even exclaimed that the movies aren’t supposed to be interconnected (despite the in-movie claims that they are), and I simply don’t want to. Before anyone freaks out, yes, I’ve seen all the Predator movies. But, it’s admittedly been a long time since I’ve revisited them and what a fantastic excuse with a new movie on the horizon, eh? So let’s have some fun!
By this point in the franchise, the Predator has been something of an oddity of classic and iconic aliens, in that… there hasn’t been that big of a film franchise. Oh, sure, you can find countless comics, video games, and the like, and it’s not like the AVP franchise didn’t feature them. But let’s face it, as far as solo outings are concerned, it was twenty years between PREDATOR 2 and the next one. Yes, I am aware that PREDATOR 2 was likely what killed the franchise before Paul W.S. Anderson came along, but it’s still a strange thing to think about that we needed crossovers and other forms of media to bring back the one ugly mother fucker to the big screen. Of course, the trend will technically continue, as it’ll be an eight year wait for another jab at the franchise.
But for now, let’s focus on the one.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Adrien Brody (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS , and the upcoming AIR STRIKE ), Alice Braga (THE SHACK , and upcoming films THE NEW MUTANTS  and EDUARDO E MÔNICA ), Walton Goggins (ANT-MAN AND THE WASP , AMERICAN ULTRA , and upcoming films WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS  and THEM THAT FOLLOW ), Mahershala Ali (HIDDEN FIGURES , HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY 2 , and upcoming films GREEN BOOK  and SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE ), and Topher Grace (AMERICAN ULTRA, and upcoming films BLACKKKANSMAN  and UNDER THE SILVER LAKE ).
In support, we have Danny Trejo (STORKS , THE RIDICULOUS 6 , and upcoming films THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR  and #ROXY ), Oleg Taktarov (DEN OF THIEVES , and upcoming films SEE YOU SOON  and THE BIG FIGHT ), Louis Ozawa Changchien (THE BOURNE LEGACY ), and Laurence Fishburne (ANT-MAN AND THE WASP, JOHN WICK 2 , PASSENGERS , RIDE ALONG , MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III , and upcoming films BROTHER’S KEEPER  and WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Nimród Antal, known for VACANCY (2007). Co-writing the screenplay are Alex Litvak (THE THREE MUSKETEERS ) and Michael Finch (AMERICAN ASSASSIN  and HITMAN: AGENT 47 ), both are slated for the upcoming MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (2019). Composing the score is John Debney, known for BEIRUT (2018), THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (2017), THE JUNGLE BOOK (2016), STONEHEARST ASYLUM (2014), and the upcoming THE BEACH BUM (2018). The cinematographer is Gyula Pados, known for Maze Runners THE DEATH CURE (2018) and THE SCORCH TRIALS (2015), and JUMANJI 2 (2017). Finally, the editor is Dan Zimmerman, known for Maze Runners THE DEATH CURE and THE SCORCH TRIALS, and DARK TOWER (2017).
This is my honest opinion of: PREDATORS
A group of killers from various backgrounds have been thrust into the jungle of an alien planet to fight against a group of three Predators.
Once again, the Predator franchise nails a winner for me, despite some frustrations.
Let’s start with the negatives. What’s with Brody’s deep, gravelly voice? I mean, it’s almost like the dude is trying to sound bad-ass. I already believed that he was, considering that he was brandishing an AA-12 auto shotgun. That can’t be an easy bitch to control on full-auto. Of course, enthusiasts will likely tell me that full-auto in a combat situation may not be the most efficient, but I digress, and not the point. At least with Nolan’s Batman films, the idea behind the gravelly voice was to disguise Bruce Wayne’s real voice, which never bothered me like it apparently did so many people. Here… it’s just trying too hard and was pretty distracting.
I’m fairly certain that the Predators take aliens from other planets, not just humans from Earth. So it’s definitely a bummer that we don’t get to see other surviving aliens, minus the one that chases Edwin (Topher Grace). Even other corpses would have lent its way to some creativity, as well as the use of some other alien weapons to use against the Predators.
More in the spoilers section, but beyond that, where do I start with the positives?
Not entirely dissimilar to the second movie, this one takes a concept that was previously introduced, and adds to it. What do I mean? In PREDATOR 2, we finally got a glimpse of not just one, but multiple Predators. Sort of a wasted moment as many of them don’t do much and one just hands Mike Hannigan a pistol from the 1700’s. Now, we aren’t just dealing with one Predator, we’re dealing with three. And not just Predators either, but it looks like they have their own alien version of hounds. It also looks like there’s different factions. As stated by Noland (Laurence Fishburne), they apparently have blood feuds, explaining why one is tied up. It’s, of course, not explained what any of this means, but let’s face it, no one really wants to know. We get a peek into their culture without having anything explained to us. This movie knows what we want to see, which is lots of guns and shooting and killing. Everything else is an afterthought and this movie treats the unimportant shit as such, but still integrates these revelations in meaningful ways to the story.
The action, as per usual, is a lot of fun. We substitute many of the over the top explosions in favor of gun-play, which you’ll never hear me complain about. Full-auto shotguns and handheld miniguns are the quickest way to my heart for action movies. Although I have to say that it’s a bit comical to see Royce (Adrien Brody) and Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), the two dudes with the biggest and loudest weapons, are aided by people with pistols. It just seems so… silly. Still, better to use them and feel feeble than to stand there like a lump and not contribute at all.
I also enjoy how the characters have this inherent need to stick close together during this situation that they know nothing about, despite not harboring a single ounce of trust in each other. We could probably guess that they never would, but the tension is still present and it’s always bubbling and expecting someone to snap.
One aspect that I have learned to loath in movies like this is the introduction of a completely unique and game-changing type of character that’s supposed to add so much to the overall story, but ultimately don’t make it into sequel, or are otherwise retrospectively lazily added as their existence is never referenced again, or the worst case scenario, killed off within minutes of their introduction. I am, of course, referring to Noland. Christ, what a great character to have and then stick a middle finger up at the audience. The movie introduces Noland, a survivor against the Predators for years. He’s not entirely sane anymore, he leads people to their deaths and takes their shit, disguises himself as a Predator and uses their technology to protect himself, one would think he would either be the most useful ally these guys would have, or he would be just much a danger as the Predators pose. But nope, he spouts exposition and is killed off, likely resulting in ten to fifteen minutes worth of screen time. For a character who has been through hell and back, he helps one group and gets killed off rather easily. It’s a serious letdown. In retrospect, he should have just waited for the characters to die and strip their bodies of their weapons, ammo, and whatever other equipment they might have instead of trying to kill them off himself in a confined area.
And while I will always enjoy Goggins as an actor, I really hated the way that Stans was written. Okay, death row inmate, got more than a few screws loose, I got it. However, when he’s having this heroic, selfless, self-sacrificial moment to save the team, it’s hard to feel for his loss when just a few moments ago he was showing off a naked lady tattoo on his chest… of his sister… and toward the beginning of the movie, makes a comment about raping so many women when he gets out of here. Um… well I guess we now know why he was on death row! In short, horrible addition to the movie and could have been fine enough had some lines been tweaked, but as is… so much no.
Overall, I might say that this is weakest of the Predator movie, but that’s not exactly saying a whole lot. This movie certainly has more than a few callbacks to the original film. Some of them welcomed, like the score, but others are incredibly forced, like direct lines ripped directly from the first movie that aren’t done justice. Still, I think it’s a fun flick and is worth checking out if you’re a fan of the franchise. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s still a worthy addition. I kind of wish they’d have continued the story with the survivors, as it’s pretty open-ended, but I’m guessing the reviews were far too negative and didn’t haul in enough cash to warrant a direct sequel. I suppose depending on how the 2018 continuation fares, this might be a pointless movie. Still, I think it’s worth it for the shits and giggles. It may not be our planet, and it’s got more than a few flaws, but it’s still a fun retread of familiar territory.
My honest rating for PREDATORS: a strong 3/5