Merciless brutality has always been a core element of action-horror mashup movies like The Terminator and Alien. Usually, the stakes involved pitting characters against near-invulnerable foes.
Now, director Shane Black seeks to return to this 1980s heyday storyline by pumping energy back into the Predator franchise. This is the fourth time we’ve seen the off-world hunter make a sport of culling humans (not counting the Alien-Predator crossover films), the last being 2010’s Predators,headed by Adrian Brody.
The opening star-filled sky is reminiscent of old-school Tristar-like production, and from then on we’re jettisoned into the middle of dimension-hopping spacecraft chase. This chase sets the pace, for viewers will find the film hardly slows for a breather. The Predator crashes his ship on Earth and comes face to face with Sniper McKenna. The alien is soon captured and sedated where its transported to a research facility. Evolutionary biologist, Dr Bracket is brought in to help on an undisclosed project, is exposed to alien tech and learns some startling truths regarding the creature’s origins. But they haven’t long to contemplate the information, for the Predator breaks loose and creates havoc. It is not long after that we see the Ultimate Predator that was teased in the previews. This 11-foot tall menace is a genetically superior alien who pursues the Predator and seeing him unleash his fury is well worth the wait.
The lasting impression of The Predator holds a surprise in store that probably shouldn’t be a surprise: the killing scenes are a shocking, gore-fest of bloody brutal takedowns. It is, by far, the most violent of all the movies in the franchise and totally earns its R-rating. This is saying a lot when you recall that, back in the day, Predator 2 received the same rating in 1990 (But is timid by comparison). The first rope-dangling victim of the alien hunter features a blood-soaked sequence that would most likely traumatise anyone to whom these films don’t appeal. The humour was another thing that really worked well to build comradery between the convicted soldiers, though some of the jokes are vulgar and misogynistic. (Baring in mind the negative PR surrounding cutting a scene containing a registered sex offender).
It’s good film for those that enjoy this kind of thing and although Arnie’s Predator is a classic, this film is at least better than the two sequels that followed it. The end features a real juicy sequel-baiting bit that’ll make you want to see more. JKA Short
‘The Predator’ is in cinemas now.