“The Predator” managed to restore my faith in personal cynicism about redundant sequels/spin-offs. This sequel to numerous other Predator films appears to have been assembled from bits and pieces of other films in a way to make the film as derivative as possible.
Now when I say ‘derivative’ I don’t mean that it is far too like other Predator films — that’s not necessarily a fault if a movie series wants to be its own mini-genre. No, “The Predator” manages to be both derivative and unlike other movies in its own stable.
The films is chunks of bits from the Andromeda Strain, ET, Independence Day, plus almost any film with aliens in secret labs. The story makes almost no sense and the whole plot relies on an escape pod crashing near a US soldier on a mission in Mexico, while the main ship crashing near his home town somewhere in the US, which, by an amazing coincidence is not far from the secret government base investigating the Predators which in turn is not far from a military prison/psychiatric hospital where the same soldier ends up being held. Oh and also the soldier’s kid is an autistic genius, who (also by dint of coincidence) gets hold of the Predator tech when the soldier mails it to a PO Box but it gets sent to his old house instead.
The best defence about the film is that is trying to be positive about autism, and (separately) mental illness by relying mainly on ‘positive’ stereotypes of both (autism as ‘the next stage of human evolution’, mentally ill people as fun and wacky). It’s also better when it drifts into a parody of Predator movies (the Predator aliens now have Predator alien dogs and one of the Predator dogs learns how to play fetch). I’ll also concede the running joke that ‘Predator’ is a stupid name for the aliens works.
Maybe, if somebody had embraced the forays into comedy that the film makes and pushed into being a full on parody of the series, it would be a film worth watching but the jokes are too infrequent to sustain that specific momentum. Instead, we get a mishmash of sequences with a plot that can barely connect them together.
The secret agency investigating the Predators kills people for no reason. The soldier who first encounters the Predators (in Mexico, because that’s where US soldiers are?) knows that he has to hide things from this agency IN ADVANCE of ever knowing about them. He needs to hide the evidence! Why? Who knows, the character doesn’t. Also he has the Predator gadget for making you invisible but doesn’t use it to escape being captured by the army (who he’s running away from because…I don’t know…bceause that’s what you do.) The evil secret agency is evil though, we know this because they recruit a nice woman scientist and after the Predator escapes they decide to kill her for NO REASON AT ALL. Oh, and that same scientist works out early on that the Predator doesn’t attack unarmed people and so…spends the rest of the film carrying a gun.
The Predator also turns out to be a renegade predator who has come to Earth to give humanity a gift that will protect them from the Predators. This is part of the twist of the movie which also makes zero sense because for much of the film the renegade Predator kills people like a regular Predator.
Don’t try shouting at the movie. I tried that and it doesn’t work.