There is a scene mid-way through The Predator—Shane Black’s soft-reboot/sequel to the 1987 Schwarzenegger classic, Predator—where one of our heroes, pursued from all sides by alien and human alike, sees a fleet of motorcycles and yells to his cohorts—a group of ragtag misfits previously destined for the military hospital psych ward—“GET TO THE CHOPPERS!”
Your reaction to this moment will tell us all we need to know about whether or not this is the movie for you. If your instinct is to smile and laugh, appreciating the callback to one of the original movie’s most quoted lines, then nothing else matters.
I could tell you all about the insipid storyline involving a rogue predator looking to be the savior of mankind (which, apparently, doesn’t prevent him from taking a few heads—predators, after all, gonna predat) or the cookie cutter characters who seem drawn from a first year handout of archetypal roles given to would-be writers—the roguish but loveable bad boy (Boyd Holbrook), the do-gooder scientist (Olivia Munn), the broken hero with one last fight in them (Trevante Rhodes), or the autistic genius kid (Jacob Tremblay)—who are thrust into ready-made scenarios in a sort of paint-by-numbers mix and match.
Or I could go into terrible detail about the script that can never quite decide what it’s supposed to be, a comedy or an action movie, and how both parts interfere with the other, allowing neither to fully form into anything meaningful. Perhaps I could even mention how every few scenes I would breathe a sigh of relief, positive that, no matter what else happens, it couldn’t possibly get any dumber than whatever it was I just witnessed, only to recoil from horror a few minutes later as the movie, once again, proved me wrong.
I might even mention how Black, working with co-writer Fred Dekker, with whom Black also wrote the 80’s adolescent classic The Monster Squad, has made the worst movie of his career, perhaps working in a jibe about how fitting it is that the guy who played the most forgettable character in the original movie would go on to make the most forgettable entry in the entire franchise (that would be provided, of course, we agree to discount the wretched Alien vs. Predator movies—oh god, remember how they made two of those?) crafting a film devoid of everything that made its predecessors so great and memorable.
None of these things will matter if you find yourself hearing about the line—“GET TO THE CHOPPERS!”—and being unable to contain your glee. If that’s you, you’re gonna love it. You won’t find the action boring, rote, or outdated at all. You won’t mind the effects that look half complete and rushed. You won’t care about the nonsensical plot and pacing. You’ll recognize how the incessant score is reworked from the original film, and the nod along knowingly. I’ll wager you’ll love every second of it.
If that’s you, then have at it. I hope your mind is every bit as blown as a crashing spaceship carrying a precious cargo of destruction that fuels your sci-fi tainted lust for thrills. At the very least, I wish you a good night out at the movies. Me? Well, you can probably find me at home, cheering along Arnold, Danny Glover, or even, in my weaker moments, Adrien Brody, wishing I could join you this time around and, ultimately, being saddened that I cannot.
The Predator is now playing in theaters everywhere.