The Predator (R)

Action/Adventure 101 min. September 14, 2018
By Bilge Ebiri
The Predator, as The Predator keeps reminding us, isn't really a predator at all. This agile intergalactic menace is not some hungry alien beast looking to feed. It's patient and sadistic, and lives for the pursuit -- for the excitement of tracking prey, exploiting its weaknesses and killing it. As Olivia Munn's evolutionary biologist Dr. Casey Bracket notes, it's actually like "a sports hunter, or a bass fisherman." The response from Sterling K. Brown's cynical federal agent Will Traeger is swift: "Well, we took a vote. Predator's cooler."

That might give you an idea of the kind of movie The Predator is: clever in its proud and profound stupidity. All that ruminating about the nature of its monster isn't there to serve some deep thematic end; it's there to set up a punchline, and a good one at that. The movie is lightning-witted, often for the dumbest ends. Which, when you think about it, is ideal for a pseudo-franchise that never aimed for the sincere slaughter of the Alien films or the cheap thrills of the average slasher picture.

This latest entry, directed and co-written by onetime wise-ass action screenplay wunderkind Shane Black (Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys), wears its self-aware humor as a talisman against the predictability of its plot and the gratuitousness of its carnage; the plot is so pro forma that the movie can't even pretend to bother with it. Writer-director Shane Black can't take The Predator's militarism or its pyrotechnics or its emotional stakes seriously; what he does take seriously is his refusal to take any of these things seriously. He accomplishes this by moving so fast that we can barely keep up.
Shane Black Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Alfie Allen, Thomas Jane, Augusto Aguilera, Jake Busey Shane Black, Fred Dekker John Davis 20th Century Fox

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