*. It was with feelings of shame and even horror that I realized, not far into The Predator, that I was this film’s target audience. I’d been to see the original Predator (twice!) in the theatres when it came out, and the reason finding myself targeted for this reboot/sequel was so bothering is that I don’t think the producers here were aiming so much at nostalgia as they were counting on the original audience (that is: me) not having grown up, at all, in the last thirty years.
*. I start off mentioning this because The Predator is a conscious throwback, even getting the iconic author (I’ll hold off on auteur) of ’80s action flicks Shane Black to direct as well as do the script this time. But was Shane Black ever any good? That’s a question this movie made me ponder.
*. Thirty years later, I have to say that almost none of it works. Is it too easy to say Black is still stuck in the ’80s? Yes, but I’m not sure that’s the problem. It’s just not a good screenplay.
*. There are a lot of jokes attempted but none of them are funny. There’s a shaky, rambling structure to the story, which may have come about due to the extensive recutting that was much reported on. Whatever the cause, whole characters (like the hero McKenna’s wife) are just left in the air. And finally the central premise, which has the Predators stealing human DNA in order to speed and direct their own evolution, is just plain stupid.
*. Here I have to make an angry digression. Specifically, it’s DNA with a predisposition for autism that the Predator wants to borrow. Now here’s something I said in my notes on The Darkness: “Hollywood needs to let autism go.” More precisely, Hollywood needs to stop presenting people with autism as superheroes, as they’ve taken to doing a lot lately (see, for example, what I had to say about The Accountant).
*. McKenna’s son Rory, you see, is somewhere on the autism spectrum. Not so much that you’d think there’s anything actually wrong with him, but just enough to make him the Smartest Human Being on the Planet, capable of understanding alien technology just by looking at it. In other words, he has Hollywood autism. This makes him a real prize in the DNA lottery. As the one scientist explains: “You know, a lot of experts say that being on the spectrum isn’t really a disorder, it’s actually the next step on the evolutionary chain.”
*. This is, as near as I have been able to figure out, total bullshit. About the best that can be said about it is that it’s so stupid it actually sparked a bit of public backlash. Could it be that the end is in sight for this particular bit of stereotyping? Fingers crossed.
*. Apparently the new and improved Predator, in addition to being even bigger than previous iterations, has an armoured exoskeleton underneath his skin. Which explain why bullets have no effect on him whatsoever. So what exactly is the plan at the end? Are they just going for head shots? Why then do they have such trouble hitting him in the head? Or is it just that only some head shots get through?
*. For the most part The Predator received very negative reviews. It is not, however, without some redeeming moments. There’s a really interesting bit at the end involving the force field on the Predator’s spaceship. But aside from this and maybe a couple of other scenes I found it incoherent and tired. At every step you can see what it’s trying to do and how it’s just not working. It’s like watching somebody try to throw a piece of garbage into a garbage can over and over and missing every time. You keep hoping it will eventually go in so that he’ll stop. But the closest he comes is a couple of bounces off the rim. It’s not exactly boring, but at the same time you don’t really care either way. That’s how I felt.