Shane Black is one of the highest regarded writer directors working currently, known for writing ‘Lethal Weapon’ 1 and 2, and for writing/directing ‘Iron Man 3’, ‘The Nice Guys’ and ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ (all great films). Unfortunately, his latest film continuing the Predator franchise is a break from his pretty consistent track record, and one that features a dull story, ropey CGI and offensive stereotypes.
I’m in a rare (and shameful) position of having not seen any of the other Predator films (I know, I’m sorry) so this will be a comment purely on this instalment, without any knowledge on the characters mythology or the franchise’s chronology.
This latest film sees the Predator return to earth as it follows a group of PTSD soldiers who must fight it off. The first thing to say is that the film’s treatment of PTSD and mental disabilities (particularly Tourette syndrome) are borderline offensive. The character with Tourette’s seems to be there purely for comic relief and the jokes and hostility at his dispense felt totally unneeded and cruel. The cast of characters is of a Michael Bay level of bland masculinity. Olivia Munn is the only leading lady and has little to do (and in one scene is naked for NO real reason). Other than Munn, the rest of the men are lame caricatures of butchness. They throw around ‘f*cks’ like they’re going out of fashion and in one scene a character proves how macho he is by putting a cigarette out on his tongue.
With the cast all playing such bland characters, Black seemingly felt the need to inject the script with funny quips. One of the ‘hilarious’ quips is said while two teenagers search for a ten-year-old to bully: “mmm, I’m hungry for a nice big juicy ass burger”… I’m sorry, WHAT? (FYI, that same 10-year-old is later forcefully kidnapped by government agents, despite a severe fight from the child and his father). Granted, the franchise began in the 80’s but seemingly Black felt it was okay to use an 80’s sense of humour in this film. It wasn’t okay, none of the jokes landed and the whole affair came off as offensive and thoroughly misguided.
For a film that cost $88 million, the CGI in this film is dreadful. There are several moments when it looks more like a PlayStation game than a Hollywood blockbuster, and it’s clear that the end of the film was hastily reshot in July of this year after poor test screenings. The film is so bland for the most part that it almost doesn’t matter the ending is just as boring. For an ultra-intelligent alien with supreme killing abilities, I also found the Predator himself to be thoroughly boring and actually stupid. Its choices were terrible and seemingly he had no real motivation for being there at all.
Overall this movie is a definite no go. It is offensive, the special effects are shoddy and the story (if you can call it that) is a dreadfully boring affair. Though its ending teases more instalments, I can only hope these are either cancelled or drastically rethought.