Preda­tor out for blood

The Preda­tor ★★★½ (out of 5) Di­rec­tor: Shane Black Star­ring: Boyd Hol­brook, Olivia Munn, Ja­cob Trem­blay Run­ning time: 1 hours, 47 min.

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - ENTERTAINMENT - CHRIS KNIGHT ck­night@post­media.com

In the realm of science fic­tion films there are re­boots, re­makes and reimag­in­ings.

But di­rec­tor and co-writer Shane Black’s The Preda­tor is some­thing else. Re­venge, per­haps?

Back in 1987, Black was an up-and-com­ing writer (Lethal Weapon), and an ac­tor with a sin­gle credit to his name, as Hawkins in the Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger ve­hi­cle Preda­tor, who comes to an ig­no­min­ious end, turned in­side out by an alien kill ray.

Over the next three decades — and far be it from me to sug­gest some cal­cu­lated plan — Black amassed a de­cent port­fo­lio of writ­ing and di­rect­ing cred­its, in­clud­ing 2013’s Iron Man 3.

Which brings us to The Preda­tor, sixth in the se­ries if you count such silly spinoffs as Alien vs. Preda­tor: Re­quiem. Draw­ing on Black’s more-is-more ethos, the alien hunters don’t bother much with cam­ou­flage this time out, pre­fer­ring to run around in the open, look­ing like the cos­play ver­sion of an un­holy union be­tween Slip­knot’s drum­mer and an ex­tra from Bat­tle­field Earth.

The film’s ’80s sci-fi vibe starts early, with the de­lib­er­ately low­bud­get crash of a UFO in Mex­ico. Amer­i­can sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Hol­brook), wit­nesses the may­hem that fol­lows, and makes off with a few choice bits of alien tech, which he mails to his es­tranged son (Ja­cob Trem­blay), and wife (Yvonne Stra­hovski); shades of the re­cent movie Kin as ju­nior uses it to scare away some neigh­bour­hood bul­lies.

As to what hap­pens next, just imag­ine if you took a cell­phone from a griz­zly bear, but she had the Find My Phone app. Quinn now has to keep ahead of the aliens, find his kid and, for good mea­sure, res­cue a bio-ge­neti­cist (Olivia Munn), who has been brought in by the gov­ern­ment to as­sess the threat. Hint: It’s very high.

Quinn is aided by a bunch of quirky sol­diers with a va­ri­ety of men­tal is­sues, as if the A-Team was made of noth­ing but Mur­dochs. (Hey, if this film is go­ing to ’80s out, crit­ics should be al­lowed to do like­wise.)

Never mind that the screen­writ­ers — Shane and Fred, also known as Black and Dekker — play fast and loose with Tourette’s, PTSD and a host of other prob­lems. The Cuckoo’s Nest of side­kicks pro­vide enough snappy pat­ter to keep you gig­gling and take your mind off the ex­ces­sive vi­o­lence. The Preda­tor is rated R for blood, sweat and tears — but mostly blood. And per­haps this is ask­ing too much of space aliens whose in­ner flu­ids glow green, but there does seem to be a con­ve­nient lack of re­solve when the Preda­tor faces off against some­one the story needs to keep around a while longer; it kills ex­cept when the plot de­mands that it doesn’t. Also, note the ex­pe­di­ent ar­rival of a preda­tory space­dog, which proves re­mark­ably train­able.

Fi­nally, there’s an ideal sense of tim­ing when the film sets up the in­evitable se­quel, which I can al­most guar­an­tee Black will not be di­rect­ing, if it hap­pens at all. He’s proven he’s bet­ter than the fran­chise that started his act­ing ca­reer. No need to flog a dead alien.

SUP­PLIED PHOTO

Di­rec­tor and co-writer Shane Black’s The Preda­tor is some­thing else. Re­venge, per­haps, for the death of the char­ac­ter he por­trayed in the 1987 orig­i­nal star­ring Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger?

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