‘The Predator’ has all the ingredients for a fun popcorn flick


Writer/director Shane Black, a regular visitor to the Austin Film Festival, can rightly be credited with some of the most irreverent and trenchant dialogue in many movies, including “The Nice Guys,” “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and the “Lethal Weapon” franchise.

So he seems like a good choice to reboot the “Predator” series. And he largely succeeds with “The Predator,” especially if you’re judging by Hollywood standards, because this new film sets up a whole bunch of sequels.

Boyd Holbrook stars as Quinn McKenna, a special operations forces sniper who’s on a special mission that’s interrupted by a predator spaceship that bursts upon the scene and crashes. Before it’s over, nearly everyone is dead except McKenna, and mysterious federal government agents think they need to lock up the sole survivor.

They put McKenna on a bus to a secret prison, and he has plenty of company: a group of military misfits and killers, including Trevante Rhodes as Nebraska Williams; Thomas Jane as Baxley; Alfie Allen as Lynch; and Augusto Aguilera as Nettles.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this motley crew will be the one to take on the upcoming predator invasion. And it’s fun to watch McKenna try to figure out how to deal the antisocial guys.

McKenna has a secret that he hasn’t told military authorities, and that secret ends up involving his son, Rory (Jacob Tremblay), who lives with McKenna’s estranged wife.

Rory is on the autism spectrum, and he’s a genius. When he gets hold of some of the dead predator’s armor, all sorts of trouble ensues, in part because he’s sending out signals to other predators. Oops.

There’s also a clever Halloween trick-or-treat moment, but it’s best to save those chuckles without a spoiler.

In the midst of all this, the mean old federal government and its secret laboratory recruits a scientist who has devoted her life to the study of alien life forms. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) is brought to the lab that’s examining the most recent remains of an alien. And the lab is located in the same complex where McKenna and his crew are headed.

Let’s just say that you can’t keep a good predator down. And no predator is just going to lie on a cot with restraints while other predators are entering Earth’s atmosphere and looking for trouble.

Battles erupt. Stupid federal agents raid the home where McKenna’s son lives. Stupid federal forces think they can outsmart a world-class sniper. And lots and lots of people die ugly.

This is what “The Predator” is all about. Throw in some snappy dialogue, a cute kid, a smart scientist and a tough-guy hero, and you’ve got the makings of a popcorn movie.

That’s what “The Predator” is, and what it aims to be. Fanboys will probably differ on whether this most recent iteration is worthy, but most moviegoers will enjoy the show — and the witty banter.



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