This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be a lot more negative.
It’s time to look at the 80s movie that started it all. I’m not the biggest fan of the Alien series but I always thought the Xenomorphs were cooler than the Predators. Their design just can’t be beat. Still, I hadn’t seen their solo movies before so it was time to change that. It basically plays out like you would expect. It’s a lot classier than Alien 3 but at the end of the day there are unavoidable errors that the film will bump into due to its nature.
The film starts off with Dutch and his group getting called back to base. The commander quickly explains that they have to go into enemy territory and free the hostages that were captured after they wandered past the border. Also, the group has to take local pencil pusher Dillon with them. Dutch isn’t happy about this but orders are orders. Unfortunately as the group gets deeper into the jungle they start to realize that this mission wasn’t what they were expecting and the real enemy may not even be human.
It takes them a long while to actually realize that there is a Predator around and even longer to realize that he is wearing a cloaking suit. While this is annoying it isn’t unreasonable considering how far fetched the whole thing would seem at face value. As a result the heroes don’t really stand a chance for a while there.
The Predator is fast and has a cool cannon, but he isn’t bullet proof so if you can get the shots off quick enough then you’ve still got a chance. Problem is that his cannon is basically automatic so it is hard to fire before he gets his shot. Also at night he absolutely has the advantage since he can see while the others have to fumble around.
The Predator definitely does have more character than I expected. Again, I saw him in the crossover but I don’t remember the Predators laughing there or copying voices. In this one they can do all of that which is pretty neat. In particular the laugh is definitely pretty fun. On the whole I definitely like the Predator more than I did from the crossover. I still prefer the Xenomorphs but these guys are worthy rivals.
Unfortunately the film does step into the unfortunate error of adding in a bit of animal violence. As always it is a very forced scene that should never have made the cut in the first place. The boar didn’t ask for this! It’s not a terribly long scene but it definitely doesn’t help matters. Also holding the film back is naturally how violent it is. With characters getting skinned and being mangled throughout you can expect a whole lot of violence. It’s fairly tame before the Predator shows up but then he starts it all with a bang.
The character cast isn’t too bad though. I definitely did like the main character Dutch. I never knew that the meme of the handshake was from this movie so that was pretty cool. Dutch was a good leader who could think on the fly and kept coming up with new plans over and over. He’s definitely the kind of guy you want to have around as he won’t desert you no matter the situation. It’s easy to see why he is known as one of the in the field. It’s clear that he and the group weren’t gonna lose to the other humans. He doesn’t get to let loose with too many puns and one liners this time around, but the ones that we do get are pretty good.
One of the more annoying characters is definitely the friend from the old days. Dillon definitely become just another government drone you can’t trust by this point. He also isn’t used to recon missions like this one so he is pretty sloppy at times. Even once Dillon finally decides to go for his hero move by the end it is simply too late for him to be likable. Better than nothing I suppose.
Predator definitely gets some respect for developing so many of Dutch’s squad here. Usually in these films you get the main character but then the rest are basically expendables. While Dillon wasn’t very likable he certainly did get his character arc. Likewise, Mac got a lot of screen time as he tries to avenge one of the other members of the group. He definitely did get a little overconfident in the end which cost him big time though. Never underestimate the Predators! Then there’s Billy who knows something isn’t right from the start but doesn’t do enough about it. In his defense, there is only so much you can really do. I do think he handled the ending pretty badly though. I’m thinking his rationale was to fight the Predator one on one without a gun so in close quarters he would have a chance, but that was never going to happen. It’s off screen so we don’t know if the Predator went the honorable route or not, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he just shot the guy.
Also the premise is just a lot of fun. It’s basically like the Hunger Games except it’s one guy against everyone else. You’ve got the numbers advantage but the person doing the chasing always has some advantages of their own. It’s easier to pick people off when they’re in a group. The whole survival aspect will keep you at the edge of your seat. It’s why it is a shame that the film is so violent since you could just keep all the murders off screen and that would help a lot. This could easily be the kind of horror film that actually ends up being really good. Even the writing isn’t as terrible as you’d expect although the TV version does make it look a lot better than it actually is since they block most of the iffy parts.
Overall, Predator makes for a fairly enjoyable watch at times but definitely is still not a film I would recommend. Even edited down for TV the violence is pretty over the top. It’s definitely a very brutal survival film and as long as you can get behind that then you’ll like it. I’m thinking that the next Predators film will probably have a tough time matching up to this one though since this one probably took the franchise as far as it could go. Still, it’s never over til it’s over!