The Predator might be continuing a story that began in 1987, but Shane Black’s sequel feels like it’s been made within a few years of its predecessor, not over three decades later.
In some ways, that’s a good thing. The Predator is defined by the propulsive properties of ‘80s genre flicks: a mish-mash of horror, comedy and action tropes with wisecracks a-plenty and torrents of gore. A team of looney – oh, and don’t forget ragtag – ex-soldiers (Boyd Holbrook, doing a convincing young Mel Gibson impression, along with Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key and Thomas Jane) team up with a plucky biologist (Olivia Munn) to fight aliens and nefarious government agents. Sure, there’s sloppy storytelling, but that’s true of most of those ‘80s flicks you know and love. Flick to The Predator on telly late at night…you’ll probably keep it on.
The problem is, the film is also quite retrograde – particular in its humour. Autism as a superpower, copious ‘your mum’ jokes, and a clumsy “retarded” line recall ‘80s films in a not-so-positive way. Shane Black can still make retrograde work, but in light of the off-screen controversy, it’s hard to view these elements with much generosity. A worthy, if forgettable, sequel.