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The Hunt has Devolved - The Predator

This is gonna be short, probably because I’m the only person I’m aware of who actually enjoyed this movie.

The Predator is written and directed by Shane Black, making his return to the franchise after 31 years. Shane Black is mostly known for writing, directing, and screwing up Iron Man 3, but he got his start as an actor in small roles. His second film was the original Predator, where he plays Hawkins, the skinny soldier that the Predator kills first. He also acted as an uncredited script doctor on the same film, doing some last-minute tweaks here and there. On to the movie.

A spaceship crashes somewhere in Mexico, interrupting a black ops mission by U.S. soldiers. The Predator kills everyone except for sniper Quinn McKenna, who somehow manages to incapacitate it. Soon afterwards a U.S. Government spook shows up and takes the creature and Quinn away. Meanwhile, the Predators dispatch one of their own after the first Predator and the crashed ship. Along the way Quinn falls in with a group other “crazy soldiers” awaiting prison/execution, it's not clear which. Also, Quinn’s autistic son and a xenobiologist played by Olivia Munn get roped in. Hijinks ensue.

This film is a mixed bag, I can’t in good conscience call it a good movie, it’s fairly dumb in places, and Olivia Munn in particular feels really out of place here. I liked Munn when she was co-host of Attack of the Show, but I don’t think she’s a particularly strong actress, and it's very hard to buy her as a biologist. That said, the film never takes itself too seriously, almost as if its aware that it’s dumb, and Quinn’s group of misfits do a decent job of playing off each other. The film has more jokes than any of the other films, and I found myself laughing more than I expected from a Predator movie. It’s also gorier than previous installments, with blood and body parts flying in various directions, sometimes in an inventive manner. The bulked up “super Predator” has a sort of rocket chain attached to his wrist that he uses to slice and impale people. And in what might have been my favorite moment, when someone suggests splitting up, they’re told it's a bad idea and everyone sticks together. It doesn’t save them, but as a longtime tabletop gamer, I always appreciate when people don’t make that mistake.

The Predator is a film I honestly can’t say if you’ll like since most people that have expressed an opinion don’t. For me, I’m generally less critical of films as long as I’m entertained. The Predator isn’t a good movie, but it isn’t a bad movie. To me a bad movie is something like Alien Covenant. As for this, a lot of people die in gory ways, and a lot of things blow up, and that’s really all I need to be entertained. It’s not worth $14, but if you enjoy schlocky self-aware sci-fi movies, it’s worth catching on Blu-ray or Netflix six months from now.

I don’t have much to say regarding the unfortunate controversy that overshadowed this movie before its release. Olivia Munn reported that she was upset after learning that a scene she shot featured a registered sex offender. The man in question, Steven Wilder Striegal, is apparently a friend of Shane Black. My understanding is this: Striegal pleaded guilty for attempting to have sex with a 14-year-old. Apparently, he served six months in prison, and afterwards was still cast in movies by Shane Black, who had been a close friend for years.

The scene was ultimately cut but Munn was, understandably and justifiably, upset about the incident. To an extent, I understand Black wanting to give a friend a second chance, but it certainly shows a lack of judgement on Blacks part, particularly in the era of #MeToo. I guess Hollywood still has a very long way to go in clearing out the rot that’s been part of it for so long.

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