US Army Sniper Quinn McKenna witnesses the crash of an alien space ship on earth during a secret rescue mission. The alien that emerges from the vessel is a Predator. Quinn confronts the creature, and manages to steal some of his armor. The predator is captured by a secret government organization for research purposes. Quinn escapes from the scene, but is eventually detained. Before his arrest, he manages to ship the stolen armor parts to the US, where they are accidentally delivered to the home of his ex-wife and son. The Predator and Quinn manage to escape from their respective prisons, and a violent race ensues as both are set to reach the house where Quinn’s son lives. What they do not know is that humans and predator alike are being hunted by an even more dangerous creature.
The Predator is the fourth installment of the franchise, and saw Shane West at the helm as both director and writer. Black earned merits as screen writer for the Lethal Weapon movies, and most notably the incredibly vulgar, but arguably very funny Bruce Willie vehicle The Last Boy Scout. From the 2000s onward, he also directed a couple of movies. He was even able to infuse the rather sterile Marvel Universe with a much-needed dose of irony and light-heartedness as director and writer of Iron Man 3.
For The Predator, genre veterans Fred Dekker and John Davis joined the team as screenwriter and producer, respectively. These names signal an old-school approach to action and horror movies, and The Predator can certainly be considered an old-school affair. There’s nothing unique about it, but it also never pretends to be more than a cheeky action comedy. Some people may consider the humorist elements of the movie an offense to the Predator franchise, as the first three movies had their fair share of horror moments. But let’s face it, no one gets really scared by the sight of a Predator anymore these days.
The plot and action scenes are not spectacular, but everything is executed fairly solid, and events unfold at a rapid pace. You can certainly accuse the movie of lacking originality, but this is no detriment to its entertainment value. The Predator costumes look good, there’s plenty of gunfire and hand-to-hand combat, and an overabundance of bodies ripped apart and blood sprayed everywhere. The choice of actors is in line with the modest presentation of the movies, there’s no big stars, and that’s for the better of it.
The true star are the dialogues written by Shane Black and Fred Dekker, that bear all the trademark of Black’s previous works. Fast-paced, witty and vulgar at the same time, it’s the perfect style to be inserted into an action movie template. Every character in a Shane Black movie is a smart-ass, and talks twice as fast as normal. I think Shane Black can be considered a real auteur of action movies. He used the ceaseless delivery of cool one-liners in his scripts for The Last Boy Scout and the Lethal Weapon movies also a couple of years before Quentin Tarantino used this element as part of his famous style.
A seemingly controversial aspect of the movie may be its portrayal of autistic people and people suffering from psychological disorders. While there’s a few low jokes uttered by various characters in the movie about them, it is the marginalized people who are showing the courage and creativity to fight the Predator. Even though the stereotypes of conditions such as autism and Tourette Syndrome are displayed, no one is really ridiculed, I would say. But it is certainly understandable that some scenes in the movie may be considered offensive.
The Predator is a nicely done throwback to the days when high-budget action movies were abrasive, silly and violent. It is an anachronistic piece in today’s movie world, and is lifted far above mediocrity by Shane Black’s involvement as both a director and writer.