Blasé invasion: ‘The Predator’ shows promise, fails to deliver

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A deadly Predator escapes from a secret government compound in Twentieth Century Fox’s THE PREDATOR. (Photo: Twentieth Century Fox)

The Predator
2.5 out of 5 Stars
Shane Black
Writers: Fred Dekker, Shane Black, Jim Thomas (characters), John Thomas (characters)
Starring: Olivia Munn, Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Rated: R for strong bloody violence, language throughout, and crude sexual references

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) - Synopsis: A Predator crash lands on Earth while fleeing from his own kind. His craft is discovered by a soldier who takes items from the extraterrestrial ship to send to his home knowing that in the near future his superiors are likely to dismiss his claims as mental illness.

Review: The other day I joked that I wasn’t even sure if co-writer/director Shane Black had ever seen any of the previous films in the Predator franchise. He did, of course, more closely than the vast majority of us. He was, after all, Hawkins in the original film.

The truth is, I don’t enjoy Black’s films. Outside of “Lethal Weapon,” which he wrote, and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” which he adapted and directed, I have always walked away from his movies with a sense of disappointment. “The Predator” would prove to be no different as Black mixes brutal gore with goofball comedy. There's nothing particularly new here, we’ve been to nearly all the places the film tries to take us and that takes the sense of adventure out of the equation. The general silliness robs the film of any suspense or tension. There are some fun moments, but the film falls apart by a general lack of attention to detail.

Black has seemingly forgotten that that the Predator franchise works best when it plays hide and seek. In Black’s film the Predator isn’t so much a hunter as he is a tank. He uses little to no strategy and instead relies upon his size and brute force to carve his way through those who stand in his way.

I think, or maybe just want to believe, that Black was going for the tone of “Aliens,” where there is a solid balance of action, sci-fi and frivolity. There’s plenty of time for jokes, but at some point, particularly when those around you are dying, there is also a time to take the situation a little more seriously.

“The Predator” has some interesting ideas and at times it works fairly well, particularly early on. Once the film begins to juggle its numerous storylines that are happening at various locations it completely loses the sense of claustrophobia that made the original film work. You don’t feel like you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with no hope of escaping.

There is no nuance in the script. “The Predator” goes out of its way to spell everything out. Any “surprises” are telegraphed.

Of the cast, Olivia Munn comes away looking the best as she continues to prove to be a viable action star. Keegan-Michael Key is occasionally funny and Thomas Jane and Jacob Tremblay are underutilized. Boyd Holbrook, who you might recognize from “Logan,” isn’t really given the chance to give any depth to his performance. He’s a fine soldier, but I wanted to see more of the father side of the character.

Maybe my expectations were too high. You might enjoy “The Predator” in the moment, but it’s the sort of film that will instantly begin to fade from your memory.