Director: Shane Black
Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown
Have I Seen it Before: It’s a brand new type of movie for the series, but I can’t say it’s anything brand new in the entirety of film.
Did I Like It: It’s agreeable enough, except for in those parts where it goes out of its way to not be so, so I can’t really say I recommend it.
I complained that Aquaman (2018) was so mired in a retro aesthetic that it keeps me thinking about all of the stylistic choices and wanting me to exist in the movie. The Predator deals in a similar milieu, and yet feels more successful, or at the very least more natural in that regard.
Perhaps this is because James Wan and company are imitating what they had seen and enjoyed when they were younger, making the whole exercise a little derivative, whereas Shane Black was at the forefront of the aesthetic he is reaching for in this film, and so it feels more like a return to form than an homage.
And yet, can one now even approach liking a film that is so gleefully mired in misogyny and in narrow minded views about the mentally ill? Is it possible to enjoy a film with an almost purely tasteless sense of humor, as long as I acknowledge that it is, in fact tasteless? That might be possible, but it would need to more strongly commit to its various sins than what is on display here. The mentally ill are regularly mocked, and yet the film wants us to think it believes that people on the autistic spectrum are not disabled at all, but only does so when it is either convenient for the plot, or there’s a real danger we might find one of its leads unlikable. It can have things both ways.
And it often does try that, attempting to be an Amblin-esque story about a mop-headed child of divorce turning out to be the most cosmically interesting being in the solar system, while at the same time being a mental-illness-based rehash of the Dirty Dozen, accept this time they are fighting a pair of extraterrestrials in dreadlocks.
If the film could decide what it wants to be, I might be more inclined to decide whether I like it. Other films might attempt to straddle such wildly divergent attitudes or genres, but if I’m spending the entirety of the film thinking about these seems and not enjoying the movie—especially when the movie has such a preposterously breakneck pace as this one—it probably tells you something about whether it truly succeeds or fails.