“The Predator” is another batch of predictable predators — my word — prediting.
My count has this as the fourth Predator movie. The first, of course, was in 1987 when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie career was beginning to peak. Since then, the film’s main characters — beings from a distant planet who like to come to Earth to hunt — have become iconic.
Of the modern movie monsters, predators play second fiddle only to the nasty aliens of the Alien series. The two creatures have been so popular they even got their own series of yawner movies.
With an open ending and unfinished plot threads, “The Predator” appears to be the beginning of a new series. Whether we get a sequel will depend on the box-office bucks, but I suspect it will do well enough to generate more films.
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Boyd Holbrook’s (“Logan”) Quinn McKenna is an Army Ranger on assignment when a predator ship crashes. McKenna thinks he kills the beast and then — as proof that it really happened — grabs the alien’s helmet and other items, and then mails them to himself.
The items end up at his estranged wife’s home, where his slightly autistic son Rory — done wonderfully by “Room” and “Wonder’s” Jacob Tremblay — figures out how to work them. When he fires up the devices, a predator chasing the ship that crashed hones in on the signal and heads there.
McKenna, in the meantime, is grilled by top brass about what he saw. No one is supposed to know these things exist, so McKenna is sent to a secret facility where he’s destined to disappear forever. There he meets soldiers deemed to be not quite mentally stable. He and his fellow captives cut themselves loose just in time to follow the escape of the predator McKenna thought he killed.
Holbrook isn’t good or bad as an action hero. He fills the role. Olivia Munn (“X-Men: Apocalypse”) is his — thankfully — not romantic co-star. She’s a biologist trained to analyze alien species. Her nondescript character, too, gets on the wrong side of the powers-that-be.
Emmy and Golden Globe winner Sterling K. Brown (TV’s “This is Us”) gets the nod as the movie’s government bad guy. He’s as unremarkable as Holbrook and Munn.
You’re probably getting the hint that there are no surprises in director Shane Black’s flick. Black, by the way, was one of the squad members in the Schwarzenegger original. He’s more known for writing than directing and wrote the first Lethal Weapon flick, Schwarzenegger’s “The Last Action Hero,” “Iron Man 3” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Though he didn’t pen this one — Fred Dekker of “RoboCop 3” has that distinction — all of those films possess one positive that is desperately needed to make a horror film believable.
That fun comes courtesy of McKenna’s posse. Actors Travante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen and Agusto Aguilera have a blast as the soldiers who escape with McKenna. It’s not a lot of humor, but enough to at least make things interesting.
Movie name: ‘The Predator’
Director: Shane Black
Stars: Boyd Holbrook, Sterling K. Brown, Olivia Munn, Trevante Rhodes, JacobTremblay, Keegan-Michael Kay, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Agusto Aguilera, Jake Busey, Yvonne Strahovski
Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars
Rated R for mature themes, extreme violence and language. It’s playing at the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s, at the AMC Kennewick 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.