I didn’t expect much when I went to see The Predator last week, but I found myself in the curious position of having been proven both right and wrong. It was awful, but it was so gloriously and unashamedly awful that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Picking up in traditional Predator fashion in a dark and foreboding unnamed jungle and following a meandering, nonsensical script across several high-security labs, a suburban neighbourhood, a baseball field, and back to the dark and foreboding unnamed jungle which, judging by the time it takes to get there, seems to be located about three miles outside of the comfortable Suburbia in which most of the movie takes place.
The film kicks off when a crash-landed Predator is captured and brought to a “high security” military base where it is subjected to the kind of medical procedures that seem to be obligatory when examining an alien, including being strapped to a table with woefully inadequate restraints. “He’s heavily sedated” the head scientist confidently assures Olivia Munn’s biologist, which of course “he” isn’t, as said scientific bigwig finds out to his cost. The scientist in question bares an unbelievably uncanny resemblance to Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, from the hairstyle to the swagger, so much so that I half expected him to pull an electric guitar from under his lab coat and break into an impromptu performance of “No-one Knows” while fleeing the carnage caused by his escaped patient. Seeing the facsimile of one of my favourite rock-stars being brutally shredded by the rampant Predator is perhaps the closest I came to feeling emotion at any point during the film, but of course, if it is meaningful emotion you seek in a Predator movie, you are looking in the wrong place.
I had already resigned myself at this stage to the fact that I wasn’t going to be getting much pleasure out of this clichéd wreck of a movie but boy, was I wrong. The protagonist, played by Boyd Holbrook, an ex-army sniper out to save his autistic son from the teeth of the Predator (a problem he himself created by inexplicably choosing to mail the boy the Predator’s helmet and armband) teams up with a ragtag team of miscreants to great comedic, if not particularly helpful, effect. The highlight of this group is undoubtedly Keegan-Michael Key, of Key and Peele fame, a soldier with PTSD and a quirky sense of humour, most of which is directed at mocking his compatriot Baxley (played by Thomas Jane) with whom he shares one of the most cringy and yet most brilliantly ridiculous scenes of the movie (I won’t spoil it, it’s near the end). If you like a character with a propensity for “your momma” jokes and various other crudities, which I’m ashamed to admit had me chuckling like a twelve-year-old, then you won’t be disappointed.
Despite being an absolute mess of a movie in terms of narrative, there is a certain genius in The Predator which lies solely in its self-awareness, you could hardly expect anything less from a Shane Black movie, and the fact that it is pure good fun. Sure it is ridiculous, (my mind lingers on lobotomised Predator dog things that act like a puppy, an antagonist who seems to be important to the narrative until he randomly blows his own head off, and the appearance of Alfie Allen who does very little until he loses an arm to accompany the penis he lost in Game of Thrones), but there is something gloriously enjoyable about its ridiculousness. I can honestly claim that at no point was I bored. I laughed out loud more than I have at many comedies I’ve seen, and at the end I was very tempted to join in with the cautious smattering of only half-sarcastic applause that echoed round a nearly empty cinema; a true testament to the absurd grandeur of this glorious mess of a movie.
Editor’s Score: 1/10…or maybe 10/10…Hmmm. Probably best to compromise. 5/10.