A crushing disappointment.
The hopes were high for this latest Predator rebirth, not because Shane Black starred in the great first Predator film, so therefore he surely must care about the project? But because he's an excellent writer and director. Shane Black can count Lethal Weapon(S), The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight on his CV, he was the man who put Iron Man back on track after the sag of part 2. Plus he is the creator of two of the best buddy buddy neo-noirs this millennium (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang/The Nice Guys), So how come The Predator stinks of lazy cash cow manure?
Plot in a nutshell sees the universe's most lethal hunters unleashed on Earth due to the meddling of a soldiers kid and some nosey scientist types. The fate of mankind rests with a group of damaged ex-soldiers and a rather cheesed off female scientist.
We have a rehash mishmash of what we have seen before in Predator 87 and Predators 2010. A group dynamic fighting a seemingly invincible foe. The subsequent science aspects such as human DNA inference/reasoning etc never really add up to much, serving only for a bunch of standard actors shouting, swearing and spouting hopelessly weak jokes and series re-treads. When you think the pic is about to up a gear, get rivetingly dramatic, a poor slice of humour comes our way either by vocal spillage or visual drivel (puppy pet Predator dog, really?). There's a bunch of plot threads that just dangle never to be pulled (PTSD/our hero's family strife et al), and the Predators loose on Earth - with different agendas - are confusingly shifted about by a screenplay not sure where it wants to land.
Plus points? Well the cinematography is superb (Larry Fong), and you can't fault this for action quotas, there's plenty of it and it's bloody (both red and green type). The score is the traditional one we had from Alan Silvestri back in the 87 film, in fact it hardly deviates from it and yet Henry Jackman gets the credit. Of course some of the jokes will work for some folk (I would be lying if I said a Whoopi Goldberg gag didn't make me laugh), but the terror has gone, these Predators are no longer scary creatures. This reeks of a troubled production going hand in hand with a cash cow that not only narratively adds up to nothing really, but of a franchise death knell. Shame. 3.5/10