“The Predator”

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It’s not ac­tu­ally the guys who drove around in a van dur­ing the ’80s right­ing wrongs, but the screen­writer Fred Dekker (“RoboCop 3”) and di­rec­tor Shane Black (“Iron Man 3”) put to­gether a group of char­ac­ters who come to save the day (and add comic re­lief) while deal­ing with a va­ri­ety of per­sonal prob­lems. Pity the fool who doesn’t see the pass­ing re­sem­blance to the guys from the tele­vi­sion se­ries.

There’s noth­ing wrong with some lev­ity, as the fran­chise has tended to lean more to­ward the se­ri­ous. The use of com­edy is just a symp­tom of the big­gest prob­lem with the pro­duc­tion: the script.

“The Predator” starts with a rea­son­ably smart con­cept. A hunter from an­other world lands on Earth and is cap­tured by a su­per-se­cret mil­i­tary group un­der the di­rec­tion of the overly con­fi­dent Traeger (Ster­ling K. Brown). When an anom­aly is dis­cov­ered in the Predator’s bi­o­log­i­cal makeup, Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) is called in to of­fer her ex­per­tise.

At the same time, good sniper/bad dad Quinn McKenna (Boyd Hol­brook) is on his way to be­ing qui­eted so he won’t be able to talk about his close en­counter with the Predator. The two worlds col­lide and the ma­jor­ity of the movie is ei­ther the team run­ning for their lives or try­ing to fig­ure out a way to stop the alien at­tack.

If the film was to be eval­u­ated on ac­tion alone, it would get high marks, as there is lit­tle respite from the car­nage the Predator brings. The ex­plo­sions are big, the gun bat­tles re­lent­less and the alien tech­nol­ogy out-of-this-world cool.

But, if you are look­ing for in­tel­li­gence in the story, the dis­ap­point­ments are plen­ti­ful. It’s sad the over­all script is so lack­ing be­cause there are a few glim­mers of bril­liance. There’s both a nod to the orig­i­nal film with a clas­sic line of di­a­logue and sev­eral con­nec­tions to other Predator tales over the years.

Many of the big­gest mis­takes are with the char­ac­ter played by Munn. There’s no ex­pla­na­tion given as to how Bracket goes from a sci­en­tist to a killing ma­chine in a blink. She’s sur­rounded by trained mil­i­tary per­son­nel but ends up be­ing a far bet­ter shot and more of a killer than any of them. The only thing more preva­lent than the blun­ders with her char­ac­ter are the lines she’s forced to say. A lit­tle more thought would have made her role far more tex­tured.

Dekker and Black act as if the au­di­ence isn’t go­ing to no­tice big mis­cues like how the group of sol­diers from the men­tal ward can blow up a school and no one no­tices, where they are able to get their hands on an RV loaded with guns and how the ge­og­ra­phy of the story changes to fit the sit­u­a­tion. The most stun­ning is how Munn’s char­ac­ter ends up in a ma­jor bat­tle within a few min­utes de­spite be­ing miles away at the start.

Then there’s the A-Team vibe. Each mem­ber of the mil­i­tary team that takes on the crea­ture is a poorly formed stereo­type. Kee­gan-Michael Key’s char­ac­ter tells adult jokes, while Thomas Jane’s role is to say vul­gar things. There’s a mem­ber of the team who’s handy, an­other who chain smokes and one who sees ev­ery­thing in bi­b­li­cal terms. Not one of them hits an orig­i­nal note.

In the end, “The Predator” is a killer when it comes to ac­tion. But, when it comes to the script, it’s just dead on ar­rival.

“The predator,” a Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury Fox re­lease, is rated R for lan­guage, war images and graphic vi­o­lence. Run­ning time: 108 min­utes.

★★

TWEN­TI­ETH CEN­TURY FOX

“The Predator” brings a hunter from an­other world to Earth who is cap­tured by a su­per-se­cret mil­i­tary group.

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