Why do I see movies like The Meg and The Predator? Such events offer escapism. Director Shane Black, formerly an actor -- he played Hawkins in the very first Predator -- has crafted a cool diversion. Critics searching for subtlety or nuance might as well dance on their heads. Crucially, his airtight direction dismisses pleasantries and other time-depleting nonsense by going straight into the spine. In short, The Predator matches John McTiernanís Predator, Stephen Hopkinsí Predator 2 and Nimrod Antalís Predators.
Like Antalís blistering opener, Black ignites his film early. A spaceship launches missiles against another vessel, the latter managing to time-warp, entering Earthís orbit and crash landing. However, the escape pod continues its unknown trajectory. Meanwhile, perched on a hill and heavily camouflaged, sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) lines up a key target. His mission ends up curtailed by the Predatorís vessel. Rolling down a hill and settling amidst flaming debris, he gets a closer look at the trophy seeking creature. It wonít be his last.
I admire Black. This felt like a passion project, one he nurtured for some time. Not only does he match McTiernan as a pace-setter, he tempers any gore via wit, confidence and timing.
The greatest charm emerged from composer Henry Jackman, who delivers his most entertaining score to date. Indeed, The Predator proves even greater than Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Pixels. Despite adapting Alan Silvestriís core themes, itís the new material which surpassed my expectations. Above all, he contributes a bright, well-mixed entity. Set your volume to mind blowing.
A poem to close:
When ordering by air mail
Look out for mysterious hail.
The package exceeds your mail box
Sender proved the cunning fox.
Hunting from space to land
On the mighty Predator band.
Against civilians and the elite
Monster making quite the athlete.
Watch out for one thatís bigger
Better be quick on the trigger.
If it feels like snow
Truth left a finer glow.
(Released by Twentieth Century Fox and rated "R" by MPAA.)