Zack Hohenstein, E23 Reporter

Well, at least it was funny.

That is the most positive thing I can say about director Shane Black’s “The Predator”. There are some negative things to be said though. The writers had no interest in coherence. The action was not exciting (perhaps the biggest disappointment of the film). It sets up a sequel in the most cringe-worthy fashion. But despite all of these deficiencies, the movie did remain relatively funny.

But here’s the thing: I didn’t pay $10 to see a comedy. I paid those $10 to see an advanced space hunter kill some humans in an exhilarant and brutal fashion. To be fair, the predators in the movie do kill a lot of humans. There is no shortage of CGI blood to be gushed out over the 107-minute runtime. However, there is a shortage of genuine excitement. That is the biggest problem with “The Predator”.

The movie has a great set-up. A predator crash lands on Earth. An accomplished sniper witnesses the event and even apprehends some cool alien technology. The government wants the space weapons and they’re willing to kill for it. Another predator shows up with similar intentions and guess what! This one is bigger. Oh, and he has space dogs. Our heroes are a group of likable former soldiers, a brilliant biologist, and a seemingly even more brilliant grade schooler who has some degree of autism. The movie was written and directed by an accomplished filmmaker who even had a minor role in the original “Predator”. It all sounds pretty interesting, right? That’s why it’s such a letdown that it’s such a lifeless mess.

Let it be known: I actually enjoyed the first third of this movie. The character introductions were all really well done. Sterling K. Brown’s wisecracking Will Traeger and Keegan-Michael Key’s Coyle are the comedic standouts of the film. Trevante Rhodes does an excellent job as Nebraska Williams, a former marine who has demons to overcome. The action was also pretty cool early on. The best sequence in the film occurs when a predator wakes up from heavy sedation that government agents have him under. I’m not going to spoil what he does to them, but you can make a reasonable guess. Things only start to go off the rails a bit when the protagonists appear to successfully lobotomize a predator dog. Surprising, I know. From that point forward the movie loses a good portion of its energy.

Shane Black was clearly trying to create an exciting and funny space-themed action extravaganza. You can see his vision early on. Picture a “Guardians of the Galaxy” type of film, except the friendly talking tree is replaced by an “alien Whoopi Goldberg” (as one of the characters so eloquently described it) with a hobby of ripping out spines. Unfortunately, the gloomy sets and overabundance of hectic CGI action make it more of a “Justice League” type of film with a hard R-rating. This is not a compliment. Gratuitously gory action holds little impact or enjoyment if the set-up for said action makes no sense. The editing in tense situations, most notably the entire silly climax, is as convoluted as the logic of the characters involved in them.

“The Predator” is a movie that is fun at points but confused more often than not. As logic is thrown out the window, mindless and meaningless chaos is thrown back in. It is important not to think that chaos is synonymous with excitement. The less that things make sense, the less interest the audience has in the events taking place or the characters involved. To be clear, enough is good here for me to not hate the film. However too much was bad for me to particularly like it. Despite a strong start, “The Predator” becomes the sloppy sci-fi flick you hoped it wouldn’t be, but always knew it could be.

Official Rating: 2/5

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