Review – Shoot Me Now (“The Predator”)

I guess adding a “The” in front of the word Predator means that this sixth sequel is going to try and revitalize the sagging franchise that started off with a bang and then quickly fizzled out with its many weird incarnations (Predators,AVP: Alien vs Predator, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, et al). Well, let’s find out…

It’s gonna be one of those nights, y’know. The kind where, just as you’re about to complete some important military mission, when some dumb alien spacecraft has to go and crash land in your face and ruin everything. Army Ranger and super-sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) has this happened to him and, much to his delight, he steals some really cool alien tech before the Army brass closes in. While an escaped Predator starts killing, Quinn secretly sends his stash back home to his ex-wife and little boy.

Before long, that alien stuff (a helmet and a wrist bracelet thingamajig) is being carefully scrutinized by Quinn’s 8-year-old brilliant autistic son, Rory (Jacob Tremblay). Meanwhile, biologist Casey Brackett (Olivia Munn) has been called up by creepy government agent Will Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) to study a captured Predator, which naturally, gets loose and just wants his things back… including that helmet and wrist thingy that Rory has. But what about Quinn? Oh, he’s been locked up with a bunch of misfit looneys (that’s what they call themselves!) and sent to prison.

These ‘looneys’ are: chain-smoking and laid-back Gaylord “Nebraska” Williams (Trevante Rhodes), crazy Tourettes-sufferer Baxley (Thomas Jane), Irish Lynch (Alfie Allen), always joking Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key) with PTSD, and bible-spouting Nettles (Augusto Aguilera). Together with Quinn and Casey, they form a suicide squad to fight off the Predator (Brian Prince) and a new threat: an 11-ft tall, scary looking Über Predator that doesn’t like why the other Predator is here. And yes, Predator #1 is here for a reason. Oh, and did I mention the Über Predator has two Predator dogs? Well, he does!

So, let the games begin! It’s people vs aliens, alien vs alien, people vs alien dogs, and whip-smart little kids and gun-toting biologists saving the day! In-between there are references to the other Predator movies (Jake Busey as the son of Keyes, Gary Busey’s role in Predator 2), recalling lines like, “Get to the choppa!”, and a whole bunch of scenes that make no sense whatsoever. It’s as if this was originally a 3hr movie and then was clumsily edited down to an hour and 41 minutes with zero logic. The gaping plot holes are SO numerous I stopped counting and all the deus ex machinas were just painfully sad.

Screenwriters Fred Dekker (only TV shows like Star Trek: Enterprise) and director Shane Black (Iron Man 3) probably wrote one of the dumbest sequels around. Obviously aping the original story with six soldiers and a girl (even adding a ‘Dillon’ antagonist), it’s so contrived, so laced with F-bombs and forced humor, and with such a hackneyed plot, that I fail to see how these guys were ever given the green light on this movie.

Now Black can direct, and direct well, but his scattershot script jumps around so much with such stupidity, I couldn’t help but LOL at all the banality. Geez, I’ve read fan-fiction that was more cohesive. And whose brilliant idea was it to add alien dogs? ALIEN DOGS?? WITH DREADLOCKS!??! Are you %$@#& kidding me??

You have the talents of Munn, Key, Brown, even Tremblay clearly going to waste here, and I won’t even touch on the recent controversy where Munn blew the whistle on actor Steven Wilder Striegel (whose scenes were all cut) after she discovered he was a registered sex offender. This movie wanted to be SO good and SO cool & hip, but it suffered from too much ridiculousness and utter nonsense to ever be taken seriously. When you have a child who drops F-bombs and can decipher an impossible alien language as your main hero, I’m out.

Predator (1987)

In what was arguably one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best vehicles, this film went through many troubled times before becoming the beloved science fiction actioner we know today. Just ask director John McTiernan who famously–and bitterly–remembers this movie (DVD audio commentary) with a great deal of fondness and revulsion.

We begin with a spacecraft dropping off someone (or something) on Earth from deep space, but later on we learn that it’s an alien sportsman-like hunter here to have a little fun… and to collect skull trophies of its kills. Meanwhile, in Central America, a U.S. diplomat has gone missing and a special unit of specialized commando guys is called in to rescue him, led by the cigar-chomping Dutch Schultz (Ahhhnold). Scamming a ride-along is also Schultz’s old buddy, Dillon (Carl Weathers), but something doesn’t feel quite right.

Once in the jungle, Dutch and his guys get a rude awakening, this mission was all a scam! After they witness some ghastly skinned bodies, they are led into a fire-fight by Russian insurgents. But being double-crossed is the very least of their worries, as they are now being hunted, one by one, by something that can attack them and NOT be seen! Each one is a target: Mac (Bill Duke), Poncho (Richard Chaves), Blain (Jesse Ventura), Billy (Sonny Landham), Rick (Shane Black), and even a Mexican girl they have in tow (Elpidia Carrillo).

This dreadlocks-wearing alien predator (Kevin Peter Hall), uses advanced plasma weapons, wraps a thermal-imaging camouflaged screen around itself, and can move pretty darn fast amongst the trees. But when Mac gets all crazy with fear, he whips out “‘ol painless” (a nasty little mini-gun), and they find out IT can bleed. As each is killed off, and the alien is racking up the trophy points on his kills, only Dutch and the girl are left. It all boils down to an intense and lethal game of cat ‘n’ mouse between Dutch and the alien creature to see who’s the best… and who will live.

Written by Jim & John Thomas (Predator 2, Wild Wild West), this script was pure gold, but filming it was not a day at the beach. They were filming in the REAL jungles of Mexico and the entire cast and crew were plagued with health issues, what with the unclean food, water, and the unbearable heat conditions. BUT the biggest problem was the creature! Fox Studios wanted Jean-Claude Van Damme wearing a bright red, stupid lobster-like monster suit with large yellow eyes and a dog-like head… nowhere near as menacing as later portrayed. McTiernan consulted SPFX master Stan Winston (Terminator) for a better, more human-looking creature.

On a plane ride to Fox Studios, Winston sketched monster ideas, while director James Cameron suggested the creature have movable mandibles, which became part of the Predator’s iconic look. Thankfully, McTiernan won out, as you can see in the blu-ray spl. ed. where the original monster looks like a big red joke. This movie just shines in all every way from acting to direction to Alan Silvestri’s damn fine score. Check out future director/writer Shane Black as bad-joke telling Rick and former WWF wrestle and future politician Jesse Ventura as loud-mouth Blain.

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