It’s been over 20 years since the Predator chose Earth as his favourite vacay destination (perfect for its climate, scenery and testosterone-filled gun-toting humans). But as an alien escape pod enters the atmosphere and crashes slap bang in the middle of the US (who’d have thought it?), it appears that the hunt is back on. Throw into the fray a mismatched group of wisecracking plasma-fodder, a single girl, and a new twist on the Predator mythology, and you’ve got the perfect ingredients needed for a successful sequel. Right? Well, not quite.
It’s fair to say that The Predator got its ass well and truly served to it during its theatrical release. Fans were up in arms that this wasn’t "Predator-y" enough, while critics rolled their eyes at the inanity of the plot. But while they may have had a point, there’s actually a lot to love about Shane Black’s "re-envisioning" of the franchise.
While it’s fair to say that Black has a tendency to cannibalise his own material (see: “Shove me again and I’ll break your neck” / “Touch me again and I’ll kill you”: Last Boy Scout) and play to his audience a little too much at times (see: “Get to the chopper” and any excuse to play the bombastic Predator score), he has managed to pull off the almost impossible. If anyone believed that retreading the same ground covered in the last three movies would be fun, they’d be lying to themselves. What Black has done instead is take the hallmarks of the franchise and adapt the setting for modern audiences. And he does it well too. Nobody writes damaged characters as well as Shane Black, and the cast benefit from that massively. Sure there’s tons of hokey nonsense in here, but it’s fun hokey nonsense. Yes, there are maybe too many pussy jokes, but if Black is known to Predator audiences for anything it's cracking perhaps the best ever one in the first film. The Predator is by no means perfect, but it’s not a total mess either. Honestly, the only major criticism is that this isn’t set at Christmas.
Extras-wise there’s a fair bit to enjoy from behind the scenes. Effects junkies will love the creation of the Predator via Predator Evolution, showing all of the incredible detail put into the suit that you never see because it’s always so damn dark. A Touch of Black celebrates the writer/director’s involvement, while The Takedown Team goes deeper into the “dirty half dozen”, revealing how each of the cast (with the exception of Alfie Allen who is nowhere to be seen) worked on their roles to make them as real as possible. Predator Catch Up whizzes through the first three films in a flurry of clips, while the Deleted Scenes add a few extra moments of excess character development (and no, ‘those’ scenes with ‘that’ actor are not here). A Stills Gallery finishes off a well-rounded assembly.
THE PREDATOR / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: SHANE BLACK / STARRING: BOYD HOLBROOK, TREVANTE RHODES, JACOB TREMBLAY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW