Bursting through a portal in space, a stricken alien ship is under attack. Ejecting before it crashes into the earth’s atmosphere, its pilot (a Predator) happens upon a hostage exchange in the jungle. A firefight immediately breaks out and in the ensuing carnage elite forces sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) emerges as the only survivor. In using the Predator’s own alien technology to against it, he alone manages to defeat the Predator. However, in hiding its armour, he unwittingly sets off a chain of events that will bring yet more Predators to earth.
… sadly jettisons any suspense for near-continual action.
Director Shane Black, the scriptwriter of the original ‘Lethal Weapon’ movies, has sought to bring his wisecracking style to this latest Predator sequel. Again, by following the exploits of a rag-tag band of strangers trying defeat the movie’s titular monster, ‘Predator – Upgrade’ is a sequel that sadly jettisons any suspense for near-continual action.
Leaping over both credibility and interest, Black’s modern-day movie surprisingly makes no use of the director’s trademark dialogue. Instead we have a movie that dare not linger on any of its characters’ lives, but rather serve up a contrived smorgasbord of novel victims. Under-equipped and lacking both the original’s suspense and oft-quoted dialogue, this is an action movie that is firmly eclipsed by the shadow of its inspiration.
In the role of the token science boffin, Actress Olivia Munn tries her best to expand upon the franchise’s origins. However both her explanations and the exposition-heavy script sadly steadily shrink-wraps the predator’s rationale into a slim, self-serving basis for yet more sequels. Similarly squandered are the acting talents of Thomas Jane playing a convicted soldier suffering from Tourette’s syndrome, who seems to be used here solely for laughs – I shit you not.
So, faced with such lightweight opposition, this new Predator movie predictably whittles down its cast without much care or consequence. With its ending never in doubt, the intriguing motif of ‘how’ its cast survives is disappointing surrendered to the ‘what’ were the filmmakers thinking of? With no new meat on the bones either by way or intrigue or dilemma, this latest Predator movie comes off as a mutated synthesis of ‘Flight Of The Navigator’ and the run-and-shoot antics of countless other science fiction classics.
Resigned to now drift off into indifference, Shane Black’s latest has sadly done little here to bolster its iconic monster. Bereft of any new fear or fascination, the Predator’s universe looks set to shrink even further unless a new direction can be found.