Although I was only sixteen years old at the time, I can still remember my initial impression of John McTiernan’s 1987 film Predator as being good but not great. Back then I felt that its pacing was way too glacial for its first hour before finally getting to the good stuff in the last half. After sitting through the latest attempt to reboot the Predator series for the umpteenth time, The Predator, I think I’m starting to appreciate what the original film from thirty-one summers ago managed to accomplish. It gave the audience characters it could root for and actually took time and effort to build suspense, two of the many elements which are sadly lacking in director and co-writer Shane Black’s film.
Make no mistake about it, this Predator is all sound and fury and, unfortunately, not much else. If nonstop flights of action are highest on your priority list when seeking out an action film these days then you’re probably going to have your appetite sufficiently sated. If you’re seeking characters that you actually care about and can take the time to make an emotional investment in then be forewarned. You’re likely going to feel shortchanged after the experience has come and gone. There‘s not one person in this film that I cared about, not one. You know you’re in trouble when the title creature has more depth than any of the human counterparts seen onscreen.
It’s glaringly obvious pretty early on in the film that this is yet another flimsy excuse for franchise building, a suspicion that’s readily confirmed during the final scene and leaves no doubt. What you have leading up to that are roughly ninety five minutes of the title creature and his counterparts dispatching of victims by ripping them limb to limb and so on and so forth. The graphic violence level is high and so is the boredom.
After a while it just becomes tedious.
What plot there is concerns a rag tag group of protagonists composed of a female scientist, an imprisoned military man and his son, all of whom come together to do battle with the Predator creatures after they arrive on earth at the beginning of the film. The catch here is that the creatures are souped up on DNA from various other species, giving them a leg up on their human opponents.
One other aspect of the film that doesn’t work can be found in its lame attempts at humor. There are endless scenes with guys sitting around cracking jokes that, minus the vulgarity used to punctuate the dialogue, wouldn’t be out of place in a bad TV show from the 80s or 90s. The jokes fall flat, and yet, Black and co-writer Fred Dekker insist on returning to them ad infinitum. It’s too bad they didn’t consider working a little less on the laughs and more on some character building. To say it’s a missed opportunity is an understatement.
Film is playing at the AMC in Hickory and around the area.
Image: The Predator throws down on someone.
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