The Predator might be the most surprising visit I made to the cinema this summer. I’m pretty sure there was not a roaring demand for this picture, except perhaps in co-writer-director Shane Black’s heart. But it’s here. And Shane Black’s passion shines through the entire project, giving it that same spark that’s so often shined through in his other work, even when it doesn’t quite land.
This entry in the Predator mythology assumes that these deadly aliens have been coming to Earth for some years, that the government has clocked these events and kept them secret, and that a band of unlikely heroes (lead by Boyd Holbrook), Serena Joy, a cute kid on the spectrum (Jacob Tremblay) and a science nerd (Olivia Munn) are ultimately more of a match for the superior hunters than their traditional black-ops Earth adversaries. While the distinct lack of resources for our protagonists registers their success a stretch, it’s a shoot ’em up, fun time of a romp that feels infused with the energy of the 80s, even if it is topped with a little 2018 panache.
Fans of the series should delight in the winks and nods to the history of the elite hunters as much as the playful and expansive new direction for the franchise. From a scene in which our band of rejected soldiers wholesomely attempt to comfort a passed out Munn by placing trinkets and tea near her to an inventive, if absurd, scene involving a forcefield and scaling a spaceship, The Predator comes to slay … and to play.