Full Circle Flashback: ‘The Predator’ (2018) Review: Continuity At Its Finest
In preparation for Prey, we’re returning to cover the full franchise, today we are covering The Predator (2018).
Action films in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s typically consisted of one, possibly two stars. In the 2010s and beyond, action films have taken from the book of drama and began building ensembles. The Predator franchise used this formula in 2010’s Predators and then doubled down in 2018’s The Predator. Even with a cast consisting of Boyd Holbrook, Sterling K. Brown, Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Jake Busey, and Jacob Tremblay, the film failed drastically among critics and fans. Four years later though, I’m here to say, this was better than its RT and Metacritic scores make it seem.
The film follows Captain Quinn McKenna (Holbrook), a U.S. soldier that just witnessed his entire team and some cartel members get taken out by a Predator. After a battle ensues, the Predator (Brian A. Prince) ends up in the hands of the U.S. government and McKenna ends up a prisoner along with Nebraska (Rhodes), Coyle (Key), Baxley (Thomas Jane), Lynch (Alfie Allen), and Nettles (Augusto Aguilera) after his psych evaluation goes sideways.
However, Predator’s equipment ends up with his son Rory (Tremblay) after he ships the items to his son from Mexico. Insert Traeger (Brown), an evil scientist that runs Stargazer, and is looking for a way to use the Predator and its plethora of gadgets as military weapons. Now, where have we seen this movie before?
Traeger brings in scientist Casey Brackett (Munn), who discovers that this particular Predator has human DNA. Furthermore, she realizes that the Predator species is trying to upgrade themselves by taking the Spine from every planet’s champion they defeat. This movie ends up being a wild chase for Rory, the equipment, and a secret weapon on the Predator’s ship. All while an upgraded gigantic Predator hunts our cast.
Shane Black – who previously starred in the first Predator – takes the helm for this film, and much like his previous film Iron Man 3, I didn’t appreciate this film until years afterward. Black has a very simplistic but ambitious style. He likes to add layers to his films, albeit sometimes it isn’t appreciated until later. Black also wrote the screenplay along with Fred Dekker. Layered is an understatement. In an already complicated franchise, Black adds on. Before 2010, most of the Predator universe existed through comics or video games. Therefore, a lot of the material in this film will go over a lot of viewers’ heads.
Black and Dekker use evolution as a high talking point throughout the film. The Predators are trying to upgrade themselves, but also there’s the conversation around Rory and autism. The condition is something that Rory is picked on for during the film. As it turns out, the kid is extremely intelligent. This builds on the plot of the film and adds detail and depth.
This film is just as ambitious as it is messy. It’s a fun ride though and it adds to the lore of the franchise. We’ve seen weapons left behind by Predators before in Alien vs Predator. We’ve also seen enhanced Predators in Aliens vs Predator: Requiem. This film pulls from both of those. There’s a discrepancy among the Predator ranks, spilling over into this film and hopefully beyond.
Overall, this film did not deserve the criticisms that it got. The acting in this is like any other action film and is far better than the original Predator. It’s also slightly below Predator 2 in terms of acting, but it’s hard to hold a candle to Danny Glover. Sterling K. Brown is a great villain that has a great match in Boyd Holbrook. Predator was always about the hunt and the violence, and The Predator nails both perfectly. – Rascal. F. Kennedy
Rating – 7.5/10
The Predator is now available on VOD and Physical Media!