TIFF 2018: ‘The Predator’ Delivers Solid Action, Marred By Script

In many ways, The Predator is exactly what fans of the 31 year old franchise have been waiting for. Familiar army dudes taking on the baddest hunter in the galaxy. One liners. Guts and gore. The new film, written by Fred Dekker and Shane Black and directed by the latter, gives us all of that, and does it really well. The performances from all the ensemble cast that includes Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen and Sterling K. Brown are all good to great.

So, why was it when I walked out of my TIFF screening, did I not feel like The Predator was more than a shrug of the shouders, “yeah, it’s ok” kind of film? Unfortunately, the film is burdened with some of the worst story editing I can recall watching. Characters are suddenly driving vehicles out of nowhere. Main villains die and you don’t notice when or how. Others are introduced in haphazard ways (but we can blame director Black’s poor hiring choice on that, I’d say).

Dig into so many mainstream popcorn movies, and you’re bound to wind up discovering issues with plot. In the case of The Predator, you don’t have to dig. They’re right up there on the screen, blatantly mucking up the narrative. Now, there’s no doubt that some people will be able to look past all this, mainly because hey, The Predator is back on the big screen, blowing shit up! They’re probably the same folks that managed to look past the fact that Alien: Covenant was not very good either. And you know what, that’s totally ok in my book. We like what we like, and if your dig those films for what they are rather than what they aren’t, I’m there with you (and this is coming from a guy that still enjoys The Dark Tower, even though it really isn’t close to what it should have been).

For The Predator, though, I couldn’t turn that side of my brain off. I couldn’t, and still can’t let go of the fact that there’s definitely an excellent movie in there, but that’s been carved up by some seriously bad editing. My guess is that there’s a seriously improved Director’s Cut waiting in the wings for the inevitable Blu-ray/digital release, that will hopefully right that myriad storytelling wrongs that the movie possesses.

If not…well, consider me gutted.

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