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‘Predator’: It’s time for Hollywood to find new alien species

September 22, 2018

The “Predator” corpse - a perfectly serviceable slice of ’80s action cheese -  has been dug up multiple times since its original run in 1987. Meant mostly to show off the well-oiled pecs of prime Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura and Carl Weathers, the film actually started off as a joke. 

After the success of “Rocky IV,” a familiar utterance in Hollywood was that the boxer had run out of earthly opponents to battle, so writer-brothers Jim and John Thomas ran with it, penning a script called “The Hunter,” which they pitched to director John McTiernan (for his first directing gig), who went on to define the modern action film with “Die Hard.” Arnie took on the lead instead of his pal Sylvester Stallone.

The film had a few memorable throwaway lines, but it has not aged particularly well. Oddly, its admirers have grown over the years, and it has slowly crept into modern culture, spawning two sequels (both critical and commercial disappointments … with 2010’s “Predators” being bested at the box office by Minions and sulky “Twilight” vampires). 

Additionally, two crossover films were released, based on a popular Dark Horse comic series “Aliens vs. Predator,” in which the titular beasts take on the xenomorphs from the “Alien” film franchise. They are often swept under the carpet when series purists speak of the franchise. 

But Hollywood seldom passes on the chance to let a potential franchise stay dead, and the “Predator” series has been reanimated once again, this time by one of the original cast members who has since gone on to write and/or direct many a beloved hit (“Lethal Weapon,” “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” “Iron Man 3”). 

So, now we have “The Predator,” which serves as a direct sequel to 1990’s “Predator 2” (but prior to the setting of “Predators,” for those who care). We join Quinn (played by Boyd Holbrook), a sniper stationed in the jungle who happens upon Predator armor and sends it home, addressed to his Asperger’s-suffering son (played by  Jacob Tremblay). 

The Predators want it back. So Quinn does what every lead in a U.S. action movie would do: He assembles a ragtag group of soldiers to kick their alien ass. 

Throw in Olivia Munn as a scientist who wants to study them, Sterling K. Brown as a government agent who wants to stop Quinn, and some Predator Dogs (yup),  and you basically have the gist of the “The Predator.” Despite this condensed summation, the film is still needlessly convoluted, excessively violent, occasionally amusing, and completely unnecessary. 

Aside from the occasional zinger, this entry is yet another tire on the dumpster fire that the series has become. Add to this the last-minute revelation that director Shane Black cast a buddy who is a felony sex offender without alerting other actors (including Munn, who has been quite vocal about it), and the film is coated with an even more unappealing filter. 

It’s time for Hollywood to find a new alien species to invade us (as they never seem in short supply). “Predator” has long since lost the thrill of the chase.

Correction: In last week’s article, I stated that MoviePass had a “mass exodus” of subscribers, which was incorrect. It should have stated that MoviePass had “lost about $35 per each of its subscribers” (about $127 million) in the last quarter. 

  • Rob is the head of the English and Communications Department at Delaware Technical Community College, where he teaches film. He is also one of the founders of the Rehoboth Beach Film Society and is lead entertainment writer for Influx Magazine. Email him at filmrob@gmail.com.