With the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival currently playing host to The Predator, a number of industry critics were able to catch a sneak peek of Shane Black’s franchise reinvention in action, and it seemingly leaves a lot to be desired.
The general consensus appears to be that Black’s ensemble cast has chemistry to spare, while the action and gore are very much in keeping with the original Predator movie from ’87. Still, wafer-thin characters and poor story choices mean Shane Black’s R-rated thriller is a far cry from the John McTiernan classic, which is all the more disappointing when you remember that The Predator was once bursting at the seams with cinematic potential.
It doesn’t grace theaters until Friday, September 14th, so we’ll reserve our final judgment until then. But in order to give viewers an idea of what to expect, we’ve compiled a small cross-section of the critical consensus and, well, it isn’t very good…
THR: If things tend to get carried away during a loud and rowdy finale, there’s still one hilarious late bit involving Key’s and Jane’s characters, while a closing nugget sets up the possibility for a sequel. Whether the world actually needs one, and whether this reboot was necessary at all, is probably a question worth raising, but at least Black’s take on it is to never take it too seriously while keeping us duly entertained.
Dread Central: The Predator is a genuinely fun movie, but it’s impossible to overlook the issues that plague nearly every moment. Poor story choices and strange, if not outright silly, character decisions result in an experience that will ultimately leave audiences feeling a great amount of “meh”.
IGN: The Predator is, in many ways, a throwback to what made the 1987 original so beloved: it includes many of the same elements, such as the rowdy camaraderie amongst absurdly macho protagonists, a debauched wit, and a primal battle between man and beast. It’s a shame when everything splinters apart in the haphazard and shoddy-looking last half-hour, largely derailing what began as a promising entry in the wildly inconsistent franchise.
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Currently perched at 67 percent on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing, The Predator now faces a mountain to climb if it’s to pull in $30M at the domestic box office next weekend. This lukewarm reception will surely have an impact on Fox’s mooted franchises plans, too, after it was revealed that Black and Co. had been mulling over the possibility of a trilogy.
Variety: All of this is silly, borderline senseless, lively, and without any real rooting value at all. The supposedly lovable misfits here aren’t, no matter how the cast members feign hilarity at their potty-mouthing. Not that it matters — because nothing does in this expensive toy of a film, which ultimately works on the level of a disco ball. It’s shiny, it moves, and is accompanied by much noise. There’s not so much to say about the actors at hand, save that they showed up when they needed to, and the rest of the time (a lot, in fact), their stunt doubles did. Production values are highly polished across the board, which is not the same as saying the film has style — or that if it did, we’d have time to notice during 105 minutes that are strenuous, clamorous, yet still feel altogether like a tossed-off goof.
Digital Spy: The Predator is a flawed actioner, but a strong cast and some Shane Black magic give it a sparkle that has been lacking from recent attempts to revive the killer aliens. It’s not Black at his best, but it’s a fun diversion as long as you don’t think about it too hard.
And lastly, this review from Fandom, which doesn’t pull any punches as it begins dismantling Shane Black’s reinvention of The Predator to expose its many flaws.
If you’re a fan of the franchise – or even just the first film — you’ll go into The Predator excited and hopeful. But despite Shane Black at the helm — perhaps even because of — the film is over-ambitious, moving a long way away from what made the Arnie actioner so successful in the first place. While Shane Black is clearly keen to recapture the mood of the original, and transplant it into a bigger and bolder story, everything feels off – as if it’s been put through the teleportation machine in The Fly and come out the other side amalgamated and mashed up. It’s essentially Brundlefly, if you will. Only Olivia Munn really emerges intact – with a refreshingly strong and engaging woman character who’s probably Black’s biggest, and not insignificant, success here.
The Predator makes landfall on September 14th, and while these reviews are less than stellar, perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome will be winning over the audience in light of the revelation that Shane Black had knowingly cast a registered sex offender.