There's never been an article in the title of a Predator film. Only "Predator," "Predator 2," and "Predators." (Sorry, the silly mashups with the Alien movies don't count.) So why is this sequel called "THE Predator?" Simple: because it's about one specific member of the armor-skinned creatures that makes its way to Earth. Well, an accurate telling of it would say that it's about two of them ... and their "space dogs." But "The Predators" just doesn't work.
Besides, there's so much of more interest here than proper titles. Like, for instance, the fact that the film kicks off with a classic two-stories-at-once intro: Camouflaged military sharpshooters are about to blow away some nasty hostage-takers when an escape pod from a galactic ship, piloted by one of those visible/invisible violence-prone things comes roaring down from the skies. All hell, naturally, breaks loose, resulting in lead sniper Quinen McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) not only surviving the assault, but also making good use of a stolen invisibility tool.
That mayhem switches over to one of a different sort, to bright (make that genius), geeky sixth grader Rory (Jacob Tremblay) — whose last name is McKenna and, of course, is Quinen's son — being bullied at school. Then it's right back to dad, who's in a pickle for not behaving in proper military manner, and ends up on a bus populated with other military troublemakers that's headed to the brig, or wherever the military sends guys who they deem to be "loonies."
But wouldn't you know it — that facility is in the same complex that houses Project Stargazer, where scientists have captured, sedated, and secured — yeah, right! — a Predator, and where brilliant evolutionary biologist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) has been brought to help figure out why the creature has some human DNA coursing through its veins.
And so it's time for a next serving of many things happening at once and for additional hell to break loose. That entails Rory getting an anonymous gift of some Predator gear and inadvertently sending out a beacon to any other Predators in the nearby universe; the "sedated" Predator waking up in the science facility and showing how distraught he is to be there by slicing through a gaggle of scientists; and Dr. Bracket first attempting to shoot down but then teaming up with those unruly prisoners.
Under the slick and surefire direction of Shane Black ("Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," "Iron Man 3," "The Nice Guys"), the film wastes no time putting together a mix of terrifically edited wild and furious action with some raunchy and sometimes grisly humor. There's a great deal of cursing, and it's very violent, but it smartly keeps the gore factor to a minimum. The reason it works, though, is due to another more prevalent mix, that of snappy dialogue, a story that's constantly moving forward, and across the board strong performances, some of which put a spotlight on the raucous camaraderie of the men on the bus, and others that make true leaders of the characters, most notably in the cases of Holbrook and Munn.
If all of that isn't enough, the script also inserts a perfectly sensible reason for everything that happens in the film. It's a mystery throughout most of it, involving the plans and goals of beings from another world, but it results in the presentation of some neat aha moments. As usual in a Predator film, the size of the cast diminishes in the latter parts. But this one's going to do some big business, and will please franchise fans as well as newcomers, so there's no reason for the series not to keep on keeping on.
— Ed Symkus writes about movies for More Content Now. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The Predator"Written by Fred Dekker and Shane Black; directed by Shane BlackWith Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Jacob Tremblay, Sterling K. BrownRated R