Thursday, October 4, 2018

It Came From The Cineplex: The Predator

The Predator was written by Fred Dekker and Shane Black, and directed by Shane Black. Hey, it's a Black & Dekker movie!

Dekker previously wrote Night Of The Creeps (which I highly recommend) and Robocop 3 (meh). He co-wrote The Monster Squad (another fave) with none other than Shane Black. He also received "story credit" for House and House II: The Second Story. Over on TV he's written for Tales From The Crypt and Star Trek: Enterprise.

Black previously wrote Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero and The Long Kiss Goodnight. He wrote and directed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys.

I'm not a huge fan of Shane Black, as his past work has been VERY uneven, ranging from quite good to atrocious. That's why I was a bit apprehensive when I heard he was attached to The Predator. Sadly, my instincts were correct.

The original Predator is one of my all-time favorite movies, and one of the greatest action films ever made. It's a taut, non-stop thrill ride that's perfectly paced and expertly directed. Plus it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger at the peak of his 1980s glory. What more do you need? I can't think of a single thing I'd change about it.

That said, I'm not a fan of the Predator franchise as a whole. Each subsequent film in the series (especially the ALIEN teamups) has been an exercise in diminishing returns.

Unfortunately The Predator doesn't buck that trend. It's easily the worst entry in the series, as it flushes any sense of danger and suspense right down the crapper, coming dangerously close to slapstick and farce. Remember back in the 1980s when studios inexplicably produced animated series based on R-rated properties like Robocop and Rambo? The Predator feels exactly like those shows. It's literally a live action cartoon.

The original Predator worked because the cast played it absolutely straight, which helped sell the movie's ridiculous premise. The only character in the first film who wasn't deadly serious was Hawkins. He served as the comic relief, inserting the occasional bad joke to help diffuse the tension. 

Unfortunately Shane Black doesn't seem to grasp that concept. His script turns pretty much EVERY character in this new film into a carbon copy of Hawkins. The entire cast spends the whole movie jokin' and riffin' nonstop, which ends up neutering the Predator threat. And why not? If the characters don't fear it, why should the audience?

This ill-advised tone becomes all the more puzzling when you realize Shane Black actually played Hawkins in the original Predator! What the hell? Apparently he doesn't get the franchise at all or what it is that makes it work.

The Predator isn't the first time a serious franchise has produced a humorous and farcical entry. It happened back in 2001 with Jason X, the tenth film in the Friday The 13th series. Although I like that film quite a bit, it's campy tone pretty much killed the franchise once and for all. In fact it caused them to reboot the goddamned series and start all over again! 

I have a terrible feeling that The Predator may turn out to be a similar franchise killer. 

It's a no-win situation. If the studio pumps out a carbon copy sequel, fans accuse them of having no originality. If they try something different, they squeal that it doesn't match the tone. It's a problem with no good solution.

Look, I love action schlock as much as the next guy— the more outrageous and over the top the movie, the better. That said, even a cheesy B-movie needs to have some internal logic and be somewhat comprehensible. Sadly, The Predator fails miserably in this area. 

Absolutely NOTHING makes a lick of sense in this film. Characters appear with no introduction and disappear just as quickly with no explanation. The plot is confusing and contradictory, and there's little or no continuity between scenes. The entire film feels like a series of action setpieces strung together by the thinnest of storylines. Worst of all is the slapdash editing, as the movie seems spliced together almost at random.

I'm blaming the majority of this incomprehensibility on reshoots. All movies these days undergo reshoots— it's become a natural part of the filmmaking process, as a director looks at a rough cut and realizes he needs to touch up a scene here, and clarify another there. They're generally not a cause for alarm.

The Predator supposedly underwent MASSIVE reshoots, as the entire third act was scrapped and rewritten. Shane Black tried to justify this by claiming he shot the third act in the daytime as a cost-cutting measure (because filming at night is expensive). Unfortunately when he saw the dailies, he realized he'd made a grave mistake. According to Black, a Predator clomping around in the daytime just wasn't scary. He then had to figure out a way to streamline the last third of the movie (meaning cutting out everything that made sense) and reshooting it at night. Sigh...

I'm growing a bit weary of this series' titling system. 1990's Predator 2 gave us a good old fashioned numbered title, but I guess that's too hopelessly corny for the new millennium. Since then we've had Predators and now THE Predator. What next? A Predator? La Predator? How about Ye Olde Predator? 

Like all the previous entries in the franchise, The Predator is rated R, rather than a watered down PG-13. That's pretty much the ONLY good thing about the movie.

So far The Predator's grossed $116 million worldwide against its $88 million budget. That sounds pretty good until you remember that these days, movies need to gross around twice their production budget just to break even. For The Predator, that magic number is $176 million. 

It might come close to that amount before theaters start dumping it, but there's no way it's gonna make any more than that. It's not exactly a flop, but it sure ain't a hit either. The only thing that can save it now is a massive influx of overseas ticket sales.


The "Plot:"
A movie like this one doesn't come around very often, but when it does it deserves special treatment. That's why I'm giving The Predator extra attention, and going into excruciatingly minute detail in this extra-long plot description. I took one for the team so you don't have to!

Somewhere in space, two Predator ships engage in a dogfight. One of the ships is hit by a laser blast, so it opens a rip in space and flies through it to escape. OK, so that's new, but I can live with it. Makes sense that the Predators would have some kind of faster-than-light tech.

The ship emerges above Earth, and barrels uncontrollably toward the surface. Inside the ship, this Fugitive Predator struggles to regain control. He eventually gives up, grabs a McGuffin Module from his dashboard and walks past a small pod in the wall. Whatever's inside it must be important, as the camera lingers on it for a few extra seconds. The Fugitive Predator enters an escape capsule and blasts off, as the main ship crash lands (I guess?) somewhere.

In a remote Mexican jungle, Army Ranger Quinn McKenna (played by Boyd Holbrook) and his team are on a top secret mission to retrieve a group of hostages from a drug cartel. Hmm, that plot seems strangely familiar somehow. He shoots one of the cartel members, but before the others can react, the Predator's escape capsule crashes through the trees and kills the rest.

McKenna then inspects the wreckage of the capsule and finds it empty. He then sees the Fugitive Predator's helmet and gauntlet lying on the ground. So I guess they fell off him in the crash or something? Or it took them off? Who knows. Anyway, McKenna slips the gauntlet onto his arm and it activates.

Before McKenna can react, his teammate Dupree suddenly bursts through the dense jungle. They cautiously prowl around the site, and find the third member of their team hanging from a tree, skinned alive. Wow, that was quick! The Fugitive Predator landed less than five minutes ago, and he's already killin' and skinnin' victims! Impressive! Not to mention nonsensical!

Just then the Fugitive Predator, whose cloaking device is active, leaps out of the jungle and kills Dupree. Somehow McKenna reflexively fires the gauntlet, and manages to hit the invisible target. The Fugitive Predator's knocked cold and lands on the ground. Blood from the skinned man drips down onto its invisible body, giving McKenna a chance to see it what it looks like. Well, sort of. It's invisible and given form by human blood, but that's apparently enough to sear its look into his brain.

Knowing no one will ever believe an alien killed his men, McKenna grabs the helmet as evidence and stuffs it into a bag. For no good reason, the gauntlet then lights up and a tiny metallic orb pops out. He catches it, stuffs it into his pocket and runs off.

Seconds later a helicopter lands in a clearing. It's Project Stargazer, a top secret government division that's apparently been studying the Predators for years. It's led by Will Traeger, (played by Sterling K. Brown), who orders his team to load the unconscious Fugitive Predator onto the chopper. He then pops several pieces of Nicorette into his mouth, which I guess is meant to be a character trait or something.

McKenna arrives in a sleepy Mexican town and tells the owner of a cantina he needs help. When the owner tells him to get lost, McKenna activates the orb, which makes him invisible. I guess he stopped and figured out how it worked offscreen at some point? He's also not wearing the gauntlet in this scene, so I guess he figured out how to remove that when we weren't looking as well. As you can probably tell by now, the editing in this film is absolutely atrocious, as it's obvious huge swathes of the plot were cut out. It's like the whole thing was edited by Edward Scissorhands.

Anyway, McKenna becomes visible again, scaring the owner into submission. He hands him the pack (containing the helmet and gauntlet) and orders him to mail it to a PO Box in the States. For some reason he adds, "Mail what's IN the pack, not the backpack." Why the hell did he have to tell him that? Was he afraid the guy would dump out the contents and just send the empty pack? Jesus.

McKenna then hears police sirens in the distance, and realizes the authorities are on his tail. How the hell they found him here in this remote town is anyone's guess. He takes the invisibility orb, drops it into a glass of tequila and swallows it for safe keeping. As one does with a potentially radioactive alien device, dontcha know.

We're then introduced to McKenna's young son Rory (played by Jacob Tremblay), who's mildly autistic. To make sure we get it, we see Rory in his school chess club, intently observing multiple games. A couple of bullies set off a fire alarm and the loud ringing sound overwhelms Rory, causing him to curl up into a ball. Note that Rory has a special, plot-specific strain of autism. One that only manifests itself when it's convenient to the story. The rest of the time loud sounds don't appear to bother him a bit.

As the school's evacuated, the two bullies wander past the classroom and see Rory huddled on the floor. They taunt him for a minute or two, then knock all the chess pieces off the boards and leave. When the alarm finally stops, Rory picks up all the chess pieces and returns them to their exact positions on the various boards. That's right
this movie treats autism as a good thing, like it's a goddamned superpower!

Rory walks home after school, and is startled by a viscous-looking dog in a pen. It's loud barking causes him to cover his ears. Believe it or not, this is a Plot Point. It's also the last time Rory's hypersensitivity comes up. 

Rory goes home to an empty house, and a few minutes later the mailman delivers McKenna's package. He awkwardly explains that McKenna hasn't been keeping up his payments on his PO Box, so the Post Office is "repossessing" it and delivering its contents to his home. Rory accepts delivery of the package, which of course contains the Fugitive Predator's gear. Wow, what an awkward and convoluted way to get the gear into Rory's hands!

There's then some more top notch editing, as we abruptly cut to a dog park... somewhere in the United States. As you'll soon realize, this movie has a terrible sense of location. Characters flit from state to state in what may be minutes, or possibly hours
— there's no way to tell. 

Anyway, Biologist Casey Bracket (played by Olivia Munn) then appears onscreen with absolutely no introduction or fanfare. A government agent suddenly approaches her and says, "I understand you enjoy... stargazing." Somehow he avoids looking directly into the camera and winking. Casey gives him a strange look, implying she's somehow heard of Project Stargazer, even though it's supposed to be top secret.

Cut to Casey riding in a car with the Agent. He gives her a series of photos of the Fugitive Predator's escape capsule, and says the aliens been here before
 in 1987 and again in 1997. Sigh... With one line, this movie just retroactively ruined Predator and Predator 2. The Agent says lately the Predators' visits have been increasing in frequency, but no one knows why.

Back at Rory's house, his mom Emily comes home with two Halloween masks for him to choose from. He says he doesn't want to go trick or treating, because the bullies who regularly taunt him will somehow recognize him under his mask. That doesn't make any sense, but let's just go with it.

Meanwhile, McKenna's interrogated at a VA hospital in Chatanooga. Wait, wasn't he just in Mexico? See what I mean? Terrible sense of place and location! Anyway, the government realizes he saw the Predator, which makes him a security threat. So they discredit him and sentence him to a military mental institution to prevent him from spilling his guts about the existence of extraterrestrials. At least I'm assuming that's what's happening in the scene, as none of this is ever spelled out.

Rory goes down to his basement bedroom/laboratory, and opens the package from his dad. Inside he finds the Fugitive Predator's helmet and gauntlet. He fiddles with the gauntlet, accidentally popping off the McGuffin Module that was attached to it. He somehow activates it, and it emits a complex holographic display. Before you can say "Autism Powers Activate!," Rory stares intently at the display and begins comprehending it (!).

McKenna's then tossed onto a hospital bus that's bound for a psych hospital... somewhere. Inside he meets the rest of the cast. This motley crew of soldiers is obviously meant to mimic the mercs from the original film. Nice try, movie! Unfortunately these "Loonies," as they call themselves, are a far cry from the Predator characters, and are all little more than props.

Anyway, the Loonies are made up of former marine Nebraska Williams, who tried and failed to shoot himself in the head, Coyle (played by Keegan-Michael Key), a sarcastic joker who fragged his own squad, Lynch (played by Alfie Allen of Game Of Thrones fame), an ex-marine who inexplicably has an Irish accent (?) and helicopter pilot Nettles, a born-again Jesus freak. Oh, and there's also Baxley (played by a slumming Thomas Jane), who's a jittery vet with both PTSD and Tourette's. "Hilariously," his Tourette's is played for laughs, as he constantly curses and utters inappropriate non-sequiturs, such as "F*ck me in the face with an aardvark." Oh, my sides! Stop it, movie, you're killin' me!

Casey's taken to Project Stargazer, a top secret government installation located deep underground. When she arrives, she's greeted by Dr. Sean Keyes, who's played by Jake Busey. I'm assuming he's supposed to be the son of Peter Keyes, the government agent in Predator 2, who was played by Jake's father Gary Busey. Once again, this movie just retroactively made Predator 2 a little worse.

Casey sees a display case filled with Predator helmets and a plasma caster, and somehow recognizes them as alien technology. Keyes then directs her to a large operating room behind a glass, where the injured Fugitive Predator is lying unconscious on a table. With only the tiniest of restraints holding him down, I might add.

Casey and Keyes go through decontamination, which requires that they strip naked and stand in a special chamber. Believe it or not, this actually becomes a goddamned Plot Point later in the movie. 

Keyes asks Casey how she got roped into this assignment. She actually says, "I wrote a letter to the President when I was six, told him how much I love animals, and if NASA ever found a space animal they should call me. Couple years ago, I was put on a short list for a paper I wrote on hybrid strains. Computer cross-referenced the letter, and... here I am." That's an actual piece of dialogue from the movie, folks.

It gets worse. After decontamination, Casey enters the operating room, where she meets Traeger. 
She asks him why they call the alien a "Predator." He says it's because the species hunts and tracks their prey, and seem to enjoy killing. She says that's wrong, as a predator kills it's prey to survive, not for sport. She says the alien is more like a bass fisherman. Believe it or not, this argument about the accuracy of the Predator name becomes a running joke throughout the film.

Casey leans in closely to examine the alien and whispers, "You are one beautiful motherf*cker." BECAUSE I REMEMBER THAT! REMEMBER WHEN ARNOLD SAID "YOU ARE ONE UGLY MOTHERF*CKER IN PREDATOR? THAT'S SOMETHING I KNOW!"

She asks Traeger why she's here, and he gives her a readout of the Fugitive Predator's genetic code. She's shocked when she sees it contains a trace amount of human DNA. Traeger says they have several theories as to how this could be, and Casey blurts out, "I get it. You want to know if someone f*cked an alien." Sigh... That was definitely a Shane Black line.

She then scrolls though old photos of past Predators who visited Earth (Lord knows who took those!) and notes they're all wearing helmets and gauntlets. She asks Traeger where this particular Predator's gear is, and he says they haven't yet located it.

Casey then sees a photo of McKenna, and asks who he is. Traeger says he's the one who made "first contact" with the Fugitive Predator. Casey says she wants to talk with him, but Traeger says that's impossible, as he's "being evaluated." A grim smile crosses her face, and she says she needs to see him before he's lobotomized.

Traeger recalls the bus (which appears to be somewhere in Georgia at this point) and it makes a U-turn. Nebraska becomes curious and asks McKenna why he's on the bus. He tells them he saw an alien wipe out his entire squad (all two of them), and the army's trying to cover it up by making him "disappear." Predictably, the soldiers don't believe him. Yawn.

Out in space, a wormhole opens and the second Predator ship (from the beginning of the movie) flies through. Apparently when Rory activated the gauntlet, this ship detected it and followed its signal to Earth. That's what I'm assuming happened, as once again, the movie doesn't trouble itself to explain. As it approaches Earth, this Super Predator activates the ships cloak, turning it invisible.

OK, hold on to something for this next scene. By now, Rory's translated the Predator language and figured out their computer operating system. He calls up a readout and sees the Super Predator's cloaked ship entering our atmosphere. Rory then taps a few buttons and actually deactivates the cloak around the ship (!!!). Puzzled, the Super Predator raises the cloak again. Rory lowers it, and the Super Predator roars in anger. 

They go back and forth like this several times. I guess this was supposed to be funny, that a kid is besting a savage alien? Anyway, eventually the decloaked ship catches the attention of the Air Force, which scrambles a couple fighter jets to intercept it.

Traeger's people detect the Predator ship as well, and realize it's heading toward Project Stargazer. Wait, why would it go there? Wouldn't it head for Rory's house? You know, the source of the signal it intercepted? I know it's probably hard for you younger readers to believe, but there was once a time when movies were good.

Just then, the "heavily sedated" Fugitive Predator wakes up, and begins graphically killing everyone in the room. Traeger manages to slip out of the operating theater and seals the door behind him, trapping Casey and several soldiers inside. Casey snatches up a tranq gun and begins firing at the Predator. She grabs a vial of the Predator's blood or spinal fluid or something and sneaks out of the room in all the confusion.

Casey tries to exit through the clean room, but the computer insists she go through the decontamination procedure first. She hurriedly strips off her clothes (told you this was a Plot Point!) as the Predator continues his kill-spree.

The Fugitive Predator sees its armor lying on a table, and becomes enraged when it picks up its gauntlet and sees the McGuffin Module's missing.
 Wait, didn't it's helmet and gauntlet fall off in the crash? Isn't that what McKenna mailed to his PO Box? Isn't that what Rory's screwing around with at this very moment? Did the Fugitive Predator have two gauntlets? Did anyone proofread this script before filming?

The Fugitive Predator then enters the decontamination room, where it sees Casey cowering naked in the corner. It hisses at her and leaves her be, smashing down the door and exiting. FINALLY, this movie gets SOMETHING right! As we've seen over and over in this franchise, the Predators have a twisted code of honor and won't attack a helpless, unarmed opponent. So kudos for that.

OK, get ready for some heavy duty stupidity. The Fugitive Predator then smashes the display case and picks up one of the old helmets inside. It then somehow ties THAT helmet to its personal one, which is sitting in Rory's basement lab. Through a camera in that helmet, it sees a drawing on the wall that says, "Rory Declan McKenna, Grade 6, Gordon Middle School." I guess the Fugitive Predator thinks that's where he'll find the McGuffin Module?

It then kills several dozen more soldiers on its way out of the building. Casey (now fully dressed) grabs her tranq gun and runs after it. She runs into Keyes, who tells her the Predator has left the building. She grunts, "Not my space animal!" and follows it. Wait, what? That's... that's not a thing a human would ever say.

Meanwhile the army bus somehow arrives at Project Stargazer five minutes after it turned around (?). The place is in chaos, as sirens wail and vehicles speed to and fro. As the bus sits motionless, the Fugitive Predator runs across the roof of a nearby building. McKenna and the Loonies see it, and he tells them that's what killed his men. For no good reason, they all decide to throw in with him and help kill it.

McKenna says they have to get off the bus if they're going to attack the alien. Nebraska says, "Brother, it's a bus. It moves." Again, that's not normal human dialogue. The Loonies then cause a diversion, overpower the guards, throw them out and take control of the bus.

It's at this point that Casey switches from Scientist Woman into full blown Action Hero Mode. She runs along the rooftops with her tranq gun, chasing after the Fugitive Predator. Suddenly the Super Predator's ship (remember it?) roars overhead, chased by the fighter jets. The Fugitive Predator jumps off the roof and lands in front of the bus. For some reason it then sprints down a road, as the bus follows closely behind.

Casey then leaps on top of the speeding bus (!). She fires at the Fugitive Predator, but somehow shoots herself in the foot with a tranq dart instead (!). McKenna leans out the door of the bus and shoots at the Predator. It fires back, disabling the bus. The Predator gets away, and Casey falls off the bus onto the ground. Nebraska exits the now useless bus, looks around and says, "Get to the choppers," because I REMEMBER THAT!

But hoo boy, does the movie have a surprise in store for us! Nebraska doesn't mean choppers as in "helicopters," but motorcycles! Did that subvert our expectations or what? McKenna and Nebraska roar up on a couple of bikes, grab Casey and speed off.

Elsewhere, the Super Predator's ship is still being pursued by fighters jets. The planes fire on the alien ship, but it lobs a few plasma bolts at them, forcing the pilots to eject.

Back on the ground, the Fugitive Predator comes up with a brilliant plan to escape Project Stargazer. It leaps into the back of a departing army truck, and murders the soldiers inside. The driver hears a ruckus and asks if everything's OK back there. The Predator picks up a solider's severed arm, shoves it through the window and uses it to give the thumbs up sign. Ha, ha, I guess?

The Super Predator's ship then lands. It exits the hatch and extends to its full height, giving us our first good look at it. As its name implies, it's an even bigger and badder Predator, one that stands a good eleven feet tall. 
Because the original old Predator design is sooooo 1987, dontcha know. Anyway, it unleashes two Predator "dogs," who take off into the woods searching for something.

Note that these Predator dogs have "dreadlocks" just like their master. I'm assuming the filmmakers did this because they were afraid the popcorn-munching masses wouldn't understand that the dogs were from the Predator homeworld unless they had dreadlocks as well. So do all the lifeforms there have dreads? I'm imagining birds, lizards, fish, even insects, all with tiny dreadlocks draped across the backs of their heads. Sigh... I know I overuse this phrase, but Jesus wept!

Cut to a motel (somewhere), where McKenna and the Loonies are holed up. The Loonies lay the unconscious Casey out on one of the beds, and try to look unthreatening when she finally wakes up. It doesn't work, as she grabs a shotgun and tries to shoot them. Fortunately, McKenna had the good sense to empty it before leaving it lie around.

Casey tries to leave, but McKenna tells her she knows too much and Traeger will kill her the first chance he gets. She realizes he's right, and decides to stay. There's lots of Shane Black's patented rapid-fire, overlapping in this scene. Believe it or not it actually comes close to being good, giving the audience a small glimmer of hope that the movie might be turning a corner and becoming watchable. Don't worry, the feeling won't last long.

Casey tells them she thinks the Fugitive Predator's looking for its equipment or weapons or something. McKenna admits he stole its gear to use as evidence, and thinks he knows where it's going. Note that at this point he has no earthly idea that the Predator can track it's own stuff, but the script doesn't care, so why should we?

Smash cut to Rory's room, where the Fugitive Predator's helmet lights up and begins humming. He puts it on and sees a holographic display of a Predator operating room, presumably located on their homeworld. A group of Predator doctors stand around a Predator patient. They inject it with foreign DNA (I guess?), and it roars in pain (Predators don't believe in anesthesia) as we see a helpful readout of the Predator patient changing and growing.

There's another hard cut as we see Rory wandering the streets of his neighborhood on Halloween night, dressed in
— you guessed it— the Fugitive Predator's helmet and gauntlet!

McKenna then returns to his house, surprising Emily. How far was that motel from his house? Was it just down the road? Is that how he got there in what seems like five minutes? I told you this movie has no sense of location. He tells her he's looking for a package, and starts searching the house. He flips out when he finds the opened package in Rory's room. 

OK, WAIT JUST A GODDAMNED MINUTE! McKenna specifically mailed this stuff to his PO Box, NOT his house! There's no way he could possibly know the Post Office cancelled his Box and dumped all his mail on his porch. So why in the name of Arnold's Accent did he show up here looking for the package? This is just beyond sloppy.

McKenna asks where Rory is, and Emily says he's out trick or treating. He says Rory's in grave danger from an alien monster, which greatly concerns Emily. She runs upstairs to grab a shotgun over the mantle, and stops in her tracks when she sees the gang of Loonies hanging out in her living room. Cue more "witty" banter.

McKenna orders the Loonies to help him conduct a grid search to find Rory. They look sheepish and tell him this isn't their fight, as they don't feel like getting sliced to ribbons by an alien hunter. McKenna eventually shames them into going with him.

In another example of world-class editing, McKenna and the others board an RV that they just suddenly have. At no point do we ever see how they get ahold of it. I guess they stole it somewhere along the way to McKenna's house? 

Even better, Casey's inside the RV, analyzing the Predator blood or spinal fluid she stole from Project Stargazer. With WHAT? Did they stop at Walmart while we weren't looking and pick up some lab equipment? Help me, Jeebus. McKenna and Casey head off in his car in search of Rory, while the Loonies follow behind in the RV.

Cut to Rory, still wearing the helmet and still trick or treating. The two bullies from earlier in the movie somehow recognize him under the helmet (?) and begin taunting him again. He tells them to leave him alone, and knocks on the door of a house. A stoner asshole leans out of an upper window and throws a bottle at Rory, hitting him in the head. A tiny rocket launcher pops out of the side of the helmet and shoots the asshole, killing him and blowing up his house to boot. Yep, that's right! Rory just straight up killed a guy. The bullies scamper away, and then Rory drops the helmet for no good reason (but keeps the gauntlet) and runs off.

McKenna sees the explosion in his rear view mirror, and somehow knows Rory had something to do with it. He turns around and the RV follows. Nebraska somehow knows that Rory's "rabbiting," and will hole somewhere he feels safe. McKenna knows exactly where to go.

We then see Rory run to his middle school football field. THAT'S where he feels safe? Why? If you can explain why the hell would a non-athletic kid who's constantly bullied would feel safe on a goddamned football field, then you've got a better imagination than me. As he stops to catch his breath, a fierce-looking pit bull approaches him, but he manages to make friends with it.

Suddenly the pit bull raises its hackles, growls and disappears completely from the movie (lucky dog!). The two Predator dogs emerge from the shadows and approach Rory. So... how are they here? Can they somehow track or smell the gauntlet? I guess so, otherwise there's no way they'd know where to find Rory.

Just then McKenna comes to the rescue as the musical score swells triumphantly. The Loonies show up as well, and they all fire on the Predator dogs in a big setpiece battle. Nebraska (I think) tosses a grenade or something at one of the dogs and blows it in half. He then sneaks up behind the other one and shoots it point blank in the head. Amazingly it shakes off the grievous injury and wanders away.

The gang regroups by the mystery RV, and McKenna checks to see if Rory's OK. There's more snappy dialogue as Nebraska asks why the dogs have dreadlocks. Casey pulls an answer out of her ass and says they may be some sort of "sensory receptors." Sigh... did you get that, guys? Thirty years after the Predators were introduced, this particular movie felt the need to try and explain why they have dreads. Jesus Christ. IT DOESN'T MATTER! THEY JUST DO! THEY HAVE THEM BECAUSE STAN WINSTON THOUGHT IT WOULD LOOK COOL BACK IN 1987! THAT'S ALL THE EXPLANATION YOU NEED! Casey then gets a sample of Predator blood from the copious amounts splattered on a Loonie's jacket.

Suddenly the Fugitive Predator lands on top of the RV, pulls Nettles out of the vehicle and holds him in the air by his throat. How did he know to come to this particular place? Because he saw the drawing on Rory's wall, remember? The one that read, "Gordon Middle School." Apparently the Fugitive Predator must have accessed Google Maps to find the address and hightail it here to get his gear.

Anyway, the Fugitive Predator then aims its targeting laser at Rory, and motions for everyone to lay down their guns. McKenna orders them to do so. Baxley then has another "hilarious" Tourette's attack, which diverts Predator's attention long enough for McKenna to grab his gun and shoot at it. It drops Nettles, and everyone scatters. McKenna, Casey and Rory enter the school (which I guess is unlocked, even late at night).

The Fugitive Predator follows them, and there's a big shootout scene inside the school. McKenna and the others find a place to hide & catch their breath. McKenna checks Rory yet again to make sure he's OK. Suddenly the McGuffin Module pops off the gauntlet that Rory's still wearing. McKenna takes it and somehow realizes this is what the Fugitive Predator's searching for.

Just then the Fugitive Predator pops up behind McKenna, grabs him by the neck and holds him up off the floor (that must be his signature move). McKenna shows him the McGuffin Module, and the Fugitive Predator grabs it and drops him.

Suddenly the Super Predator bursts through a window, snatches the Fugitive and throws him out of the building. The Fugitive uses his plasma caster to fire a blast at the Super Predator. It easily dodges it, and the blast hits the side of the school. Yeah, you read right. It just moved out of the way of an energy bolt that was most likely traveling the speed of light. Sigh... Sure, why not? If Captain Picard can do it, why not a giant alien?

The Super Predator, which towers over the Fugitive, picks it up and throws it on top of a car. McKenna and the rest of the cast board the RV and peel out to safety. Well, that's not right. For some reason, they slowly drive off at the sensible and leisurely pace of about five miles per hour. The Super Predator pays them no mind, as it has better things to do. It pulls the helmet off the Fugitive Predator and then punches it in the face, smashing its head like a ripe melon. It then pulls its skull and spinal column from its body and tosses them aside.

Sigh... (I'll be doing a lot of sighing during this summary) This scene is obviously a cheap and transparent way to show the audience that this ain't their grandpa's Predator! This one's bigger, badder, stronger and way scarier! Screw that old Regular Predator species that's been scaring audiences since 1987! This is a Predator for the new millennium. Yawn.

The Super Predator then uses its gear to display a holographic replay of McKenna and the others boarding the RV, and sees Rory wearing the gauntlet. Just then the police arrive at the school, and the Super Predator turns invisible and saunters off.

Cut to McKenna's house, where Emily fumes as Project Stargazer agents (I guess?) search her house for clues. Wait, what? Last we saw of Emily, she was telling McKenna to be careful as he went off in search of Rory. Now she's suddenly surrounded by agents infiltrating her house? WHAT THE HELL IS EVEN HAPPENING? I'm assuming this is some more world class editing, as something major was cut from the movie around this point.

Anyway, McKenna calls her to tell her Rory's OK. Before the agents can confiscate her cell phone (which they should have done the moment they arrived), she tosses it in the garbage disposal and destroys it. She tells the agents, "You just f*cked with the wrong family!" I can just see Shane Black writing that line and imagining the dude bros in the audience pumping their fists in the air and cheering. In reality it generated no reaction at all at my screening.

The editing gets even better! We then cut to a room somewhere on Earth. Maybe it's in the school? I honestly have no idea. Wherever it is, Traeger and an aide enter this room, where the dead Regular Predator's lying on a slab. The Aide tells Traeger that witnesses reported seeing another Predator eleven feet tall. Witnesses? What witnesses? There was no one around to see it but McKenna and his gang!

Traeger then theorizes that the Fugitive went rogue, and the Super Predator was sent to track him down. He then makes a massive intuitive leap and says the Super Predator will be going after the Fugitive's missing ship and whatever's in it. He says he wants that ship, and wants it now. The Aide somehow knows that Rory studied the ship's operating system and understands it (???). Traeger says if they find the kid, they can find the ship.

Cut to McKenna and the gang holed up at a farm... somewhere. Again, no sense of location, as this farm may be five minutes from the school, or five hours. There's literally no way to know. McKenna sees Coyle apparently having a mental breakdown, and Baxley comforting him. I'm not entirely sure, but I think the movie's trying to clumsily imply the two of them are gay? Or not? The dialogue's so muddled and garbled in this movie that I couldn't understand half of what anyone was saying.

McKenna then sits down and has a heart to heart talk with Rory, who blurts out, "Mom says you're a killer." McKenna patiently corrects him and says he's a soldier. Rory asks what's the difference. McKenna says, "Well, when you like it, that's when you're a killer." Amazingly, this comes dangerously close to being a poignant, well-written scene. There's just one thing that spoils it

The schmaltz continues as Rory tells McKenna he's sorry "he didn't grow up the way he wanted." McKenna says, "Truth is, kid... I never grew up the way I wanted." This is all exactly what the audience wants from a Predator film
— emotional bonding moments between fathers and sons.

The movie then decides to ruin the franchise forever, with a monumentally boneheaded retcon that's so insanely stupid, I'm honestly surprised it stuck to the film. Casey examines the Fugitive Predator's blood in her makeshift lab inside the RV. She tells McKenna she's found something, and they have the following conversation:

Casey: "I think I know what they're up to on Predator World these days. You see this? 
(She holds up the vial she stole from Project Stargazer) 
They found this in the Predator's plexus. So, remember how I told you that they take people's spine, right?"
McKenna: "Yeah, for trophies."
Casey: "Yes! Yes, from the strongest, smartest, most dangerous species on every planet they visit."
McKenna: "Collecting survival traits from the most high end specimens."
Casey: "I think they're attempting hybridization."
McKenna: "You're pullin' this outta your ass! (Preach it, brother!)
Casey: "Did you not see the new Predator? It's evolving!"

Sigh... With one simple conversation, Shane Black just took an enormous dump on the franchise. The Predators have now become the Borg from Star Trek. They were never simply taking spines as trophies, laws no. That would be silly! Instead they were collecting DNA from them, in order to add it to their genetic makeup and improve their race!

Sigh... I honestly felt like getting up and leaving after this scene.

This notion of the Predators "hybridizing" their race makes absolutely ZERO sense. The Predators hunt other species for sport, right? That implies they see other races as inferior. So why the holy hell would they pollute their genes with subpar DNA?

And I know it's nitpicky, but Casey's wrong when she says the Super Predator is "evolving." Only a species can evolve. Individuals mutate. As a biologist, Casey should know this.

Ah, but things are about to get exponentially more bizarre! McKenna gazes wonderingly at his son and says, "That little boy managed to figure out alien technology." Casey actually says, "You know, a lot of experts say being on spectrum isn't really a disorder. It's actually the next step in the evolutionary chain." JESUS F*CKING CHRIST ON A GODDAMNED SODA CRACKER, are you effing kidding me here?

Despite what this movie seems to think, autism is NOT a cool superpower. It's a serious disorder with numerous unfortunate and debilitating side effects. Autistics often suffer from sensory overload, various degrees of mental retardation and even dangerous seizures. They're also prone to serious allergies, diabetes, heart disease and cerebral palsy. Treating it as an advantage may be one of the stupidest— not to mention most insensitive—  ideas I've ever heard.

Just then there's a commotion, and Nettles appears with the Predator dog from the school. I guess it tracked them here? Evidently the gunshot wound to its head must have lobotomized it, and it now acts like a big goofy puppy. Again, Jesus wept. I am NOT OK with this. These movies cannot work unless the audience is absolutely terrified of the Predators. Granted, this is not a Predator in this scene, but even seeing one of their dogs acting friendly and harmless like this undermines the entire series.

Suddenly a chopper approaches, and the cast somehow intuits that it's Traeger. The Loonies prepare to attack, but McKenna tells them they're not starting a firefight with his kid here. He tells Lynch and Nettles to go off and find some choppers and "pyro."

The helicopter lands, and sure enough Traeger exits, along with a dozen trained grunts. He demands the McGuffin Module from McKenna. How does Traeger even know it exists? Or what it does? I guess he thinks it's a tracking device for the missing Predator ship?

In another brilliant example of editing, we smash cut to the interior of the barn, where Traeger's men are roughing up McKenna. I guess they're trying to find out where he's hidden the Module? 

Meanwhile, Traeger chats with Casey, and boy what a conversation it is. He tells her the Fugitive Predator's ship contained something it didn't want the other Predators to have. How he could possibly know this, I have no idea. She asks if it was bringing a gift to the human race? Traeger then snaps at her and tells her to shut up (?). She gravely asks why the Predators are here. He then says, "How long before climate change renders this planet unlivable? Two generations? One?" Casey says, "That's why their visits are increasing! They're trying to snap up all our base DNA before we're gone!"

Traeger than says the Predators thrive in a hothouse environment, so maybe they want to move into our overheated planet once we're gone. He thinks the Fugitive Predator's McGuffin Module contains a way to stop climate change (???).


So let me get this straight... the Fugitive Predator came here to help humanity stop global warming, in order to give our race a few more years to live. And it's helping us by violently murdering every human it sees. Got it.

It's hard to fully convey in words just how ridiculous an idea this is.

Cut back to the basement of McKenna's house, where Emily's telling the agents to stop snooping through Rory's personal belongings. They hear a noise upstairs, and one of the agents goes up to investigate.

The Super Predator then crashes through the ceiling and lands in the basement. The agent upstairs fires down at the alien, but it's unaffected and casually shoots a bolt into his crotch, violently killing him. I'm not one hundred percent sure, but I think that was supposed to be funny. Emily hightails it out of the basement, while the Super Predator slices up the other agent.

It then looks through Rory's stuff, and finds a map that he drew. A map showing the location of the Fugitive Predator's downed ship. I guess Rory got this info from the display in the helmet? And then decided to draw it because the script said so? By the way, like any map a kid would draw, this one is wildly out of scale and virtually useless. It'd be like trying to use a cartoon map on a restaurant placemat to navigate your way across the country.

Cut to Rory in the farmhouse, drawing the same map again. Traeger sees it, and for no good reason, realizes Rory knows where the Fugitive Predator's ship is located. He then hustles Rory into a chopper and takes off.

McKenna, who's still being beaten up by Traeger's agents, sees his son being taken away. He snaps and brutally kills one of the agents and knocks out the other. Meanwhile in the barn, another agent receives orders (from Traeger, I guess?) to eliminate Casey, because she knows too much.

Just as the agent's about to pull the trigger, the Predator dog trots into the room. The agent shoots it, but the bullets bounce right off. The dog then vomits up some sort of grenade. FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON, the agent bends down and picks it up.

Casey then "sweeps the leg," knocking the agent on his ass. She beats the crap out of him with her chair, grabs the grenade, pulls the pin and stuffs it down his pants. She and the dog then leap from the hayloft, seconds before the grenade obliterates the top half of the barn.

McKenna, Casey and Nebraska then regroup outside the barn. McKenna says they need to get his son back, and then his stomach suddenly makes gurgling and rumbling sounds. Hard cut to McKenna exiting the RV, as we hear the sound of a flushing toilet. WHAT THE HELL IS EVEN HAPPENING? Believe it or not, we just witnessed a goddamned Plot Point, which I'll get to in a few paragraphs.

Just then Lynch and Nettles arrive in a stolen TV weather chopper. McKenna and the rest of the cast board and they take off in search of Rory. So... how do they know where Traeger's taking him? Did they see Rory's map as well? No, the answer's actually much, much stupider. It looks for all the world like they follow the Predator dog, which is running along the ground and somehow knows where the downed ship is. I... I just don't know anymore.

The reshoots then become blazingly apparent, as we cut to Traeger— along with a HUGE convoy of Project Stargazer SUVsarriving at the site of the Fugitive Predator's ship. Hold on, as it's gonna take a while to explain all the stupidity on display here.

First of all, the Fugitive Predator's escape pod came down somewhere in Mexico, right? So it's logical to assume his ship probably crashed a few miles away. But that would mean the characters— who were all somewhere in Tennessee— just traveled halfway across the country in a matter of minutes to get to the ship.

I suppose it's possible the ship might have been flying in a northeasterly direction, and the pod landed in Mexico, while the ship kept going and crashed somewhere near Tennessee? There's no way to know, as once again, this movie has absolutely no sense of location.

Anyway, the Fugitive Predator's ship appears to have come down inside a quarry somewhere. Traeger's agents have erected a MASSIVE installation around the downed ship. 
This includes dozens of spotlights trained on the ship, a command post complete with a translating computer (?) and an electrified fence around the whole circus. They even set up trip lines rigged to explosives around the perimeter!

Wait, WHAT? Last time we saw Traeger, he was flying off in a chopper with Rory. How the hell did his agents manage to set up this miniature city around the spaceship BEFORE he arrived? Did Traeger radio the location of the ship to his crew, and they somehow rushed to the scene and did all this several hours before he got there? HOW IS ANY OF THIS HAPPENING?

Traeger walks up to the ship's main with Rory. He says, "Whaddya say, buddy? You think you can get us in there? Because I'm not sure that you can." Rory says, "That's reverse psychology. I can do that too. Don't go f*ck yourself." OK, that almost a clever scene.

Apparently McKenna and the Loonies have already arrived at the site as well, because they're watching all this unfold through their high-powered rifle scopes. AGAIN, HOW? The Loonies began pursuing Traeger long after he took off. How the hell did they manage to get to the site BEFORE he did?

Rory walks up to the main hatch of the ship, activates a holographic display and punches a few buttons. The hatch opens, and Rory, Treager and several agents enter the ship and look around. Traeger tells his men to "hook the translator up to the mainframe, and download everything." Because the Predator CPU is no doubt compatible with Windows 10, right? Jesus Christ.

Traeger and an agent then look meaningfully at the pod built into the wall, and wonder what's inside it. Suddenly there's a commotion outside, and Rory says his dad's 
come to rescue him. Traeger says McKenna would have to be an idiot to try and infiltrate such a highly secured installation.

Right on cue, Traeger's punched out by an invisible form. As the shape slowly becomes visible we see it's indeed McKenna, using the Fugitive Predator's invisibility orb. 
I guess Traeger must have turned invisible and tip-toed unseen into the ship behind Traeger and the others?

But wait... we clearly saw him swallow the thing for safe keeping back in Mexico. How does he have it back now? Remember a couple scenes ago, when McKenna's stomach was rumbling and we heard the RV toilet flush? You guessed it! Apparently he squatted on the floor of the bathroom and sh*t out the orb. Which is exactly how the writers produced this script.

McKenna then trains Casey's tranq gun (why would they still have that?) on the agent, who sarcastically asks if he's gonna kill him with it. McKenna says yep, and shoots him in the eye at point blank range with a dart. McKenna takes the groggy Traeger hostage, and they exit the ship.

Meanwhile, the Loonies quietly and infiltrate the base, ruthlessly murdering dozens of Stargazer agents and soldiers. McKenna marches Traeger into the middle of the installation, where he's immediately surrounded by even more troops (where do all these soldiers come from?). McKenna orders Traeger to tell his men to drop their weapons. Traeger refuses, and tells them to shoot Rory in the knees if McKenna doesn't surrender.

High above, Lynch trains his sniper rifle on Traeger. Just as he's about to pull the trigger, the Super Predator blows off his arm with a blast from his plasma caster. As Lynch screams in shock and pain, it finishes him off.

Suddenly all hell breaks loose down in the base, as McKenna grabs Rory and ducks for cover. The Loonies and the soldiers trade gunfire for way too long. For some reason, McKenna hands the invisibility orb to Rory for safe keeping. Or maybe he wants him to use it to hide, who knows?

The Super Predator then enters the camp and easily kills dozens more Stargazer grunts. It marches up to the Fugitive Predator's ship and boards it. While it's inside, Traeger, crouched behind a vehicle, yells to McKenna and tells him all he wants is the ship. Rory says he's lying, and McKenna agrees.

Suddenly the Super Predator broadcasts a translated message to the assembled humans. In an electronic voice it says, and I quote: "HELLO (!). I HAVE ENJOYED WATCHING YOU KILL EACH OTHER. I CAME HERE TO DESTROY THIS VESSEL. YOU CANNOT HAVE IT. WHAT YOU CAN DO IS RUN. I DETECT ONE AMONG YOU WHO IS A TRUE WARRIOR. THE ONE CALLED MAC-KENNA. HE WILL BE YOUR LEADER. HE WILL BE MY PRIZE. I OFFER TIME ADVANTAGE. GO." The Super Predator then activates the ship's self destruct sequence (or does he?), and sets it for 7 minutes and 31 seconds.

Several things here. First of all, giving the Predator a "voice" seems like a really bad idea. We've sort of heard them "speak" in the past, usually by sampling a word or two of recorded human language. But this? This monologue feels like way too much. The more we know about the Predators, the less frightening they are. 

Secondly, I actually kind of like that the countdown isn't an even number. The Predator's an alien, so 7:31 is likely the equivalent of ten minutes for him. 

Lastly, we're obviously meant to think the "true warrior" among them is McKenna, since he's our protagonist and a decorated soldier to boot. How much do you wanna bet the script will attempt a ridiculous twist, and the Predator really meant Rory?

Realizing they're all about to be blown sky high, McKenna and Traeger call a temporary truce, promising the two of them will "dance" once this is all over. One of the agents says they should split up and go off in twelve different directions. Traeger says no, as the Super Predator would just take them out one by one. Casey then pipes up and says, "He's right. It's their M.O." How the HELL does she know that? She's spent a grand total of maybe five minutes around the Predator species so far. How could she possibly understand what their "M.O." is?

By the way, the reshoots really become obvious during this exchange, as we hear the sound of a cranking engine and a hurriedly dubbed line (from offscreen) say, "The vehicles aren't starting!" Traeger than says the Predator must have hacked all the vehicles for some reason. So let's see if I understand here... the Super Predator gave them a head start before it blows up the ship, but then disabled all their transportation. Sure, why not?

The entire cast then begins gathering gear (?) for their long seven minute journey out of the area (???). The Predator dog shows up, startling Traeger and his men. Coyle locks it in the back of a truck because the script says so.

McKenna and Traeger's groups then hurry away from the ship and into a jungle, which is located... somewhere on Earth. Hey, look, the characters are all in a jungle! Just like in the original movie. We see that Traeger is now wearing a Predator plasma caster on his shoulder for some reason. I guess he took it from the Fugitive Predator's effects back at the school? Anyway, he asks Rory how to fire it (!). Rory says, "You don't. It just fires by itself when it's being attacked (???)." That's... new, not to mention nonsensical, but let's just go with it or we'll be here another two hours.

We then see the countdown is already at seven seconds. The Super Predator, who's now several hundred yards away, activates a remote that causes the ship to blow up. So... I guess the countdown display wasn't part of the self destruct process? The Super Predator actually controlled when it blew up, and could have detonated it any time it wanted? Good thing for the humans that it's an alien of its word.

One of the Stargazer grunts hears a noise and throws a Predator disk (made famous in Predator 2) into the jungle. Traeger warns him that it's gonna return, and sure enough, a few seconds later it heads back toward the grunt. He tries to catch it, but it chops off his hand. As the man stands screaming, Traeger pulls out a gun and shoots him in the head to put him out of his misery. I'm assuming this scene was meant to show how cold and ruthless Traeger is, but the whole thing just came off as stupid. As does most of the movie.

Suddenly the Super Predator appears and grabs one of the Stargazer agents and somehow lifts him up into the trees. Everyone fires on it, and Traeger gets a good look at the augmented alien gorily biting off the head of the grunt. His plasma caster fires a few bolts at it, and everyone takes off running
— in different directions, mind you— just like they agreed not to do earlier. Again, the Super Predator apparently let 'em all go just to hunt them down a few minutes later. Got it.

McKenna's group stops to catch their breath, and Nebraska says he saw a clearing up ahead, that was filled with pyro. WHAT? McKenna says they could use it to cover their retreat (???). I'm too tired to ask how Nebraska could possibly know about this magical clearing full of plot specific supplies, so I won't bother. I'm assuming
 this is another side effect of the reshoots. Baxley & Coyle volunteer to recover the pyro.

The two of them creep silently through the jungle, and the Super Predator suddenly fires on them. This causes a huge firefight, as the entire cast begins firing wildly at the alien. Unfortunately their weapons are useless against its tough, impenetrable hide. 

The Super Predator cuts a couple of grunts in half with one of its weapons. Casey then grabs the Fugitive Predator's helmet, which I guess they've been carrying around in a pack all this time for no good reason. She tosses it at the Super Predator, and it lands at its feet. The helmet then activates (?) and its tiny cannon extends and fires, knocking the Super Predator backwards several hundred yards. It lands in the aforementioned clearing. AGAIN, WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?

Brace yourselves, as there's more world class editing coming up. The stunned Super Predator staggers to its feet, and McKenna yells for them to "light it up." LIGHT UP WHAT? Baxley and Coyle said they were GOING to the clearing to get the pyro, but at no time do we ever see this happen, or see anyone set it up.

We then get a close up of Nettles pushing a detonator. The area around the Predator erupts in dozens of explosions. Nebraska fires a flare gun at the alien, and it bursts into flames. As it lurches around, it fires wildly into the jungle. Baxley then leaps onto its flaming back and begins stabbing it, as the others look on in horror.

Then comes the most jaw-dropping moment of the entire film, which is saying something. For absolutely no good reason, Casey shrieks, "TRAEGER!" He spins around to see what she wants, and the plasma caster on his shoulder turns and blows his head off!!! WHAT THE F*CKING F*CK??!?!? I guess it thought his head was attacking it? 

So that's that, folks. The film's antagonist is now dead, a good twenty minutes before the end of the movie. Even better, he wasn't killed by the Super Predator, OR by McKenna, but completely by accident. Author, author!

Anyway, the Super Predator flails around wildly and manages to grab ahold of Baxley. It hurls him through the air, and he smashes against a tree. The stunned Baxley looks down and sees he's impaled on a branch high above the ground. 

Coyle goes ballistic and opens fire on the Super Predator. It shoots a blade at him and runs off, still flaming. The blade slices open Coyle's leg, and he falls to the ground. He and Baxley than stare at one another, in what's obviously supposed to be another poignant moment. The two friends/lovers/whatever nod knowingly at one another and pull out their pistols, and shoot one another at the same time. Sigh...

The Super Predator (whose flames are now extinguished) clomps through the jungle. McKenna looks over at Rory, who suddenly appears after being AWOL the past ten minutes. Did he use the invisibility orb to hide? Anyway, McKenna tells him he loves him, and 
then runs out at the Predator, yelling, "I'm the one you want!" It picks him up by the throat and lifts him high in the air. 

Just as it's about to kill him, Casey appears and begins firing at it. It tosses McKenna at her, sees Rory and grabs him. What'd I tell you! The "true warrior" it wanted really was Rory after all! The camera lingers on the invisibility orb he drops.

A stunned McKenna asks what's going (join the club!) and Casey reminds him again that autism is "the next step in the evolutionary chain." That's right! The Super Predator wants Rory so it can augment its race with his rad autism powers! JESUS JETSKIING CHRIST!

The Super Predator then enters its ship and tosses Rory into some sort of protective pod. As it prepares to blast off, it decloaks his ship. McKenna sees this, and leaps off a conveniently placed cliff onto the top of the alien ship. Nebraska and Nettles decide to follow, because why not at this point?

As the ship begins taking off, the three of them begin firing ineffectually at its surface. Back on the ground, Casey fires a grenade launcher at the ship, which actually seems to damage it. Black smoke begins pouring from an engine.

The ship lists to the left, and the three men almost slide off of it. Casey climbs a hill and watches as it circles back toward her. Inside the ship, the Super Predator realizes he's going to crash, and begins activating a forcefield around the ship. 

Rory— who's still inside the pod— sees this and radios (?) McKenna, telling him to watch out for the field. Oy. First of all, how can he even know his dad and the others are on top of the goddamned ship? He can't see the top of the ship from inside the pod. And secondly, while he may be able to understand the ship's readouts and see that the forcefield's activating, how would he know if it posed a threat or not?

The forcefield, which takes an incredibly long time to cover the ship, approaches the men. For some reason the field doesn't tightly hug the ship as you'd think it would, and there's about a two foot gap between it and the hull. This is fortunate for McKenna, who flattens himself against the surface and allows the field to flow harmlessly over him. 
Nebrasha leaps up, and lands on top of the field as it passes beneath him. Nettles is too stupid to do either, and it slices him in half. He slides off the ship and falls to his death far below. I guess the edge of the field is the only dangerous part, as Nebraska stands harmlessly on top of it.

Nebraska then notices the smoking engine, and decides to give McKenna one last chance to save his kid. He runs toward the damaged engine, firing at it as he jumps into its turbine. The engine immediately explodes in a fireball. Hmm. So I guess there was a hole in the forcefield that he was able to jump through? Eh, that actually makes sense. The exhaust would need to go somewhere, else it'd quickly fill up the field. So kudos to the movie for that.

As the ship hurtles back toward Earth, McKenna slides under the forcefield until he reaches the main hatch. He punches a few buttons and opens the door (I guess he remembers seeing Rory do the same earlier?). 

Once inside he fires on the Super Predator. It shoots a snare line at him, which wraps around his leg. It's about to reel him in, when the ship begins crashing through trees. The Predator quickly loses interest in McKenna and attempts a smooth landing. 

McKenna then falls out of the still-open hatch, hanging by his leg from the snare line. He plows through dozens of trees as the ship passes over them, which by rights should have killed him. Eventually the line snaps and he falls to Earth. 

The ship makes a hard landing in a shallow lake. Rory's able to kick out the door of his pod and escape. Meanwhile, the Super Predator wades through the water, intent on killing McKenna once and for all. It fires blast after blast at him with its plasma caster, knocking down several trees that almost land on him.

The Super Predator approaches him and roars in anger. McKenna shoots it in its crab-like mouth, which is its one vulnerable spot. This only angers it, and it stands over McKenna, ready to deliver the killing blow.

Suddenly Casey appears, deactivating the invisibility orb (that Rory dropped earlier) and jumping on top of the Super Predator's head. She shoots straight down into its skull several times before it throws her off. It then staggers around a bit, clearly seriously injured. I'm not even gonna ask how Casey managed to follow the ship and arrive here so quickly. It's just not worth it at this point.

Just then the Predator dog appears (I guess he got out of the truck he was trapped in) and vomits up yet ANOTHER grenade. McKenna sees this and yells for Casey to toss it to him.

Meanwhile, the Super Predator leans against its ship for support. Rory gets an idea, and activates the forcefield. As it sweeps across the ship, it slices off the Predator's right arm. By the way, the field activated about a hundred times more quickly in this scene than it did earlier.

The Super Predator roars in pain, and McKenna leaps for it and grabs its gauntlet, pulling it off. At least I think that's what happens, as this scene's so dark and edited so poorly it's honestly hard to tell.

McKenna then somehow manages to jam the grenade into the gauntlet and fires it at the Predator. It sticks in his leg and explodes like a July 4th firework. The Super Predator, now armless and legless, rolls off a cliff and falls into the shallow lake. 

McKenna walks up to it and says, "What are you?" Um... it's a Predator, dude. I thought we'd established that hours ago. The Super Predator starts to answer, but McKenna says, "Shut up!" and shoots it several times in the head, finally killing it.

McKenna then somehow gathers a personal effect from each of the Loonies (whose bodies were spread over a five mile radius) and wraps them up in a handkerchief, to "honor" them somehow.

Hard cut to McKenna, now in full military officer gear, arriving at some sort of top secret scieintific base. He's met by a Dr. Yamada, the director of the mysterious facility. 

McKenna asks why he's here, and Yamada fills him in. He says, "The first Predator didn't come here to hunt us." McKenna nods and says, "He brought something." Yamada says, "Exactly." Yeah, it didn't come here to hunt us. That's why it murderized several hundred men trying to escape the Project Stargazer campus. Makes perfect sense to me!

Yamada then goes on to say that the pod the Fugitive Predator was bringing to us survived (!). Right before the Super Predator blew up the Fugitive's ship, the pod jettisoned and "saved itself." He says the Fugitive Predator wanted us to have the pod's contents at all costs.

Yamada leads McKenna into a vast chamber, where dozens of scientists huddle around the pod, trying to learn its secret. We then see that Rory is actually working here (!), and even has a little workstation, complete with his own desk! Sure, why not? A ten year old kid working at a top secret military complex sounds like a great idea! I'm sure a child would have no trouble keeping his mouth shut about what goes on here, and wouldn't possibly be a security risk.

Baby Jesus, give me strength.

Just then the instruments go wild, and the pod begins activating (Wow, right when McKenna's there
— what are the odds?). Rory says whatever's in the pod is "sending him a message," which consists of its name. He says it's called a "Predator Killer." 

An alarming amount of steam hisses from the pod as it opens up and something emerges. It's Dutch, right? The hero played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the original film. It has to be. That's the one thing that could salvage this cow pie of a film. Please tell me it's Dutch!

The camera moves in and reveals... a nondescript thing. A thing that kind of looks like one of the Predator gauntlets. Well that was disappointing.

A scientist reaches out to scan the thing, and it flies out of the pod and attaches itself to his arm. It immediately covers him in a layer of armor, much like Tony Stark's Iron Man suits. When it's done, the armor looks a LOT like a mechanical Predator. Two ridiculously massive shoulder cannons pop out and target everyone in the room. The armor then retracts and the gauntlet falls to the floor.

A stunned Dr. Yamada says, "What the hell is that?" McKenna replies, "That's my new suit, Bubba! Hope they got it in 42 long!"

Smash cut to end credits.

And there you have it. 50,000 hate-drenched words on what is easily the worst Predator movie ever made. Forget "Predator Killer." This cineturd may well be the "Franchise Killer." It's gonna be a lonnnng time before we ever get another Predator movie. If ever!


• I was shocked when I saw that this movie is only an hour and forty minutes long. It honest to god felt more like three hours when I was watching it.

 For years now I've felt there's something missing from the Predator franchise, but I've never been able to figure out what. I think I finally know what the problem is— NOT ENOUGH STUPID KIDS!

Kids are a natural in franchises like Jurassic Park. After all, what child doesn't love dinosaurs? But the Predator series? Jesus Christ, if ever there was a film franchise that doesn't need kids in it, it's this one.

 The Predator was originally meant to be a reboot of the franchise, but Shane Black insisted on making a sequel instead. The film pays homage to the first two entries by mentioning prior visits from Predators in 1987 and 1997 (the year in which Predator 2 was set, but not the year it was released).

Note that it doesn't specifically mention either ALIENS Vs. Predator spinoff film. There is a visual reference to the first AVP though. At one point Casey gazes at a display case filled with Predator artifacts. Inside we can clearly see the spear made by Alexa Wood in ALIENS Vs. Predator the one she made out of a xenomorph tail. 

Honestly I wish this movie WAS a reboot. That would make it much easier for me to ignore in the future.

 Benicio Del Toro was originally considered for the role of McKenna, but he dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. I wonder if he quit so he could star in The Last Jedi? Wow, talk about a real Sophie's Choice!

• Jacob Tremblay, who plays Rory, also starred in 2015's Oscar nominated Room (not to be confused with THE Room). Tremblay's wracked up a number of acting awards, and seems destined for great things. He can kiss all that goodbye though if he insists on appearing in any more schlock like this.

• Edward James Olmos had a small part in the film, but it ended up being completely excised— no doubt a casualty of the massive reshoots. Edward, you lucky, lucky man!

• Baxley (played by Thomas Jane) suffers from Tourette syndrome, which causes him to curse uncontrollably and blurt out inappropriate phrases. Shane Black claims he wrote the character because he himself has Tourette's.

I find that very hard to believe. Tourette's is a serious disorder that can manifest many debilitating side effects. The script seems to think it's hilarious though, as the condition is played for laughs and is the butt of a good third of the jokes. 

It literally feels like the Tourette scenes were written by a fifteen year old boy who just found out about this side-splitting disease that make you cuss. Why the hell would Black made fun of Tourette's sufferers if he himself has it?

 There was a minor controversy shortly before The Predator premiered, when it was revealed that Shane Black cast his friend Steve Wilder in a small role. Turns out that Wilder was charged with soliciting sex from a fourteen year old girl though the internet in 2010, and registered as a sex offender.

Olivia Munn, who stars as Casey in the film, found out about Wilder's past and went predictably ballistic, demanding that Fox scrub his presence from the film. Shane Black initially defended his decision, claiming he was simply giving an old friend a second chance.

Unfortunately, redemption and rehabilitation are no longer allowed in the court of public opinion. Fox sided with Munn and cut out all of Wilder's scenes, making The Predator even more choppy and confusing. 

• To add insult to injury, this cineturd uses snippets of the Alan Silvestri's awesome score from the original Predator. Not the whole thing, but just the occasional theme or interlude. Just enough to sully the memory of the original score.

• Early in the film we see that Rory's autism causes him to curl into a ball at the slightest of noises. Once that's been established though, he's perfectly unaffected by massive explosions and laser blasts for the rest of the film. Got it.

• When Rory comes home from school, he finds a note from his mom that reads, "Spent 1.5 hours cleaning house. If you mess it up I will cut you. XOXO mom."

The "I will cut you" is a reference to Mac (played by Bill Duke), who said the same thing in the original Predator.

• Credit where it's due: There's exactly one (and only one) line in the film that's actually funny. When Casey's taken to Project Stargazer, she enters a small foyer. Once she's cleared, the room begins lowering down a deep shaft. A security guard says, "Is it your imagination, or is this haunted room stretching?" 

Hey, a DisneyWorld Haunted Mansion reference! Now that's funny!

• Sterling K. Brown turns in a very bizarre performance as Will Traeger, the director of Project Stargazer. Since he's in charge of a secret government think tank that investigates alien threats, it's logical to assume he'd have some sort of scientific background, right?

Inexplicably, Brown plays Traeger as a cocky, swaggering asshole, one who punctuates ever sentence with a hearty "F*ck yeah." He seems more like an undercover cop or drug dealer than any scientist. 

Did Brown not understand who he was playing? Why didn't Black take him aside and tell him to stop acting like an arrogant frat boy?

• In one scene Casey swipes through photos of past Predator visitors on an iPad. One of the photos features what is clearly the Predator from the original film. 

So who the hell took that shot? Dutch or his team or mercs were pretty busy being hunted and killed by that particular Predator, so it seems unlikely they'd have had time to stop and take photos of it.

• Speaking of Casey, I'm assuming she must have been in the Marine Corps or possibly an inner city SWAT Team at some point before she became an "evolutionary biologist." 

When she first arrives at Project Stargazer, she's analytical and inquisitive as she studies the Fugitive Predator.

Once it escapes though, she instantly turns into a female action hero, chasing the alien across rooftops, expertly handling a variety of firearms, and even leaping from a building onto a goddamned moving bus!

What the hell? How'd she suddenly develop all these tactical skills?

• In order to escape Project Stargazer, the Fugitive Predator hops in the back of an army truck. He slaughters the soldiers inside, causing the driver to ask if everything's OK back there. 
The Predator then grabs a soldier's severed arm and sticks it through the partition, using it to give a hearty thumbs up to the driver.

So... apparently the thumb's up sign is a thing on the Predator Homeworld. Got it.

• Keegan Michael-Key plays Coyle, one of the numerous wisecracking Loonies in the film. He and his partner Jordan Peele starred in the sketch series Key & Peele, which ran for five seasons on Comedy Central. 

Jordan Peele won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for 2017's Get Out, which he also directed. And just few days ago it was announced he's producing and hosting a revival of The Twilight Zone. I can't help but wonder if Key was thinking about his pal's massive and well-deserved success while he was stuck on the set of this bomb.

• The Predators seem to have a signature move, which involves grabbing a human by the throat with one hand and hoisting them high up in the air. They do this over and over and over again.

The Fugitive Predator does it at least twice, to both Nettles and McKenna. And then the Super Predator does it several times too, as it picks up McKenna as well. Get some new moves, guys!

• What the hell was up with the lobotomized Predator dog? Every time the goddamned thing appeared I thought I'd wandered into a showing of John Carter by mistake.

The absolute last thing this this franchise needed was a deadly animal from the Predator Homeworld that acted like a big dumb puppy.

• So the Fugitive Predator comes to Earth in order to HELP humanity. 
He does this by giving us a weapon that will repel an invasion from the Super Predators, AND by violently slaughtering hundreds of the very people he's trying to help.

Makes perfect sense to me!

Jesus wept, did anyone involved with this film read through this script before they started filming it? I have a feeling this GARGANTUAN plot hole was another result of the reshoots. I'm betting the "Predator's Here To Help Us" subplot was added very late in the game, after they'd already shot numerous scenes of it murdering everyone it encountered. They couldn't reshoot the entire movie, so they just left those scenes in and hoped no one would notice it didn't make any sense.

But we noticed, Shane Black. We noticed.

• Do we ever find out what the McGuffin Module did? It drives the entire first half of the movie, as the entire cast passes it around like they're in a game of hot potato. 

First the Fugitive Predator loses it. McKenna finds it and sends it to Rory, who plays with it a while and ends up giving it back to McKenna. The Fugitive tracks him down, and McKenna hands over the Module to it. The Super Predator then kills the Fugitive and takes the Module, and I'm pretty sure that's the last we see of it.

So what the hell was it for? Was it some kind of remote? Did it control the Fugitive's ship? Or maybe was somehow tied to the pod containing the Predator Killer Armor? God may know, but apparently the screenwriters don't.

• And then there's the Super Predator's plan, which involves siphoning the autism out of Rory so he can take it back to his Homeworld and add it to his entire race.

I... I honestly don't have the words to convey just how monumentally stupid an idea this is. As I sat in the theater, my jaw literally dropped open during this scene, and I think I may have uttered an astonished "What the f*ck?"

As I said in the plot summary, autism is a serious and often debilitating disorder. It is most definitely NOT an advantage. It's also not "the next step in our evolution," as Casey seems to believe. If that's true, why is autism treated like a disease, and not celebrated and encouraged?

It's like Shane Black got all his info on disorders like autism and Tourette's from a friend of a friend who knows someone who took a psychology class once.

• In the final scene, the pod brought to us by the Fugitive Predator unexpectedly opens up. For a few brief seconds, I thought for sure that Dutch, the hero of the original film, was going to emerge from the pod and utter a pithy one liner. Something like "Let's go kill some ugly sons of bitches," or maybe even a paraphrase, "I'm back!"

Sure, it wouldn't have made a lick of sense for him to be inside a pod that was trucked here from an alien planet, but at that point, who cares? Seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger emerge from all that smoke is the only thing that would have saved this movie, and would have made everything that came before a little less painful. 

As it turns out, I was right, and Arnold WAS originally supposed to be in the pod! Shortly before filming began, the filmmakers approached him about reprising his role as Dutch. Schwarzenegger wisely turned them down, saying the role was too small to bother with. Personally I think he got a look at the script and realized it stunk, and gave them a diplomatic answer.

After that, the script was hastily rewritten, and instead of Arnold we got a pod containing a suit of armor. Meh. Talk about a letdown!

• Even in its final seconds, this movie makes no goddamned sense. Try and follow me here:

The Predators know that Earth is heating up, which will eventually kill us all. Once that happens, they can simply move in to the planet. Then the Fugitive Predator comes all the way here to save humanity by bringing us a high tech suit of armor (and killing hundreds of people, but I digress). What good is the suit? Are the Super Predators planning an invasion while we're all still alive, and the suit is meant to repel them? What good would that do? Unless it can also somehow cool down the planet, we're still all screwed.

And why does the Super Predator care so much about the suit? It comes here to kill the Fugitive for betraying his race and bringing us the suit, which is does not want us to have. Why does it care? Again, we're all doomed anyway. The suit's not gonna save the planet. Why doesn't the Super Predator just sit tight and wait for us all to boil to death?

Once again, this feels like more poorly thought out drivel that was added at the last second in the reshoots.

The Predator is a mindless, incomprehensible mess of a film, that's easily the worst of the franchise. The nonesensical script dispenses with the tension and suspense of the previous movies as it becomes dangerously close to slapstick and farce. Nothing about the plot makes any sense, as the movie was rendered impenetrable by a series of last minute reshoots. In short, it's a franchise killer. I never want to see it again and I hate is so much I'm giving it a D+.


  1. Man oh, Manischewitz! I know the intent of this article was to keep me from wasting my time watching, but I can't help feeling compelled to see the craziness with my very own eyes.

  2. Well, at least now you've been forewarned, so if you decide to watch it you know what you're getting into.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Meter