Sometimes, films are unjustly judged. Other times, popular opinion needs to be challenged. Either way, our review of The Predator will almost definitely beĀ Unpopularity Content.

The Predator franchise is one of the most well-known sci-fi action series in all of cinema. With a healthy dose of inherent horror mixed in, its premise is both simple and brilliant. The idea that mankind is occasionally hunted by deadly and technologically advanced aliens might not be overly plausible, but it’s certainly enjoyable.

For some reason, the franchise has an aversion to giving its films normal titles. After the first two films’ pretty standard titlization, there was Predators, then 2018’s The Predator. Following that, a prequel Prey was released. And that’s without mentioning the Alien vs. crossovers.

After Predators took its story into space, the franchise returned to Earth with the 2018 film. It follows a soldier who survives an encounter with a Yautja (y’know, a big dreadlocked alien in high-tech armor) and steals some of its technology. This obviously sees him hunted by both the aliens and the US government, endangering his family in the process. Luckily, he’s joined by a group of PTSD-afflicted former soldiers.

The Predator’s Story Is The Franchise’s Biggest Misstep

A hostile alien hunter accesses their spaceship in The Predator (2018)

To be fair, the 2018 film’s premise is sound. It sets up a story with all the potential to fill the high expectations of the franchise. Unfortunately, it doesn’t deliver on that promise.

The Predator soon establishes that the son of protagonist Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is autistic. It then uses this as a major plot device, working in numerous stereotypes about neurodiverse people while also asserting that the aliens view this as a desirable trait that they wish to harvest. Yes, the Yautja have come to Earth to harvest autism, and some studio exec presumably signed off on that. Yikes. It’s a plot device that at best comes off as ignorant, and at worst offensive.

On top of that, The Predator also makes use of some pretty laughable CGI. Its attempts at adding to the franchise’s lore are undermined by shoddy visuals, particularly in relation to the Yautja dogs. Essentially, in more ways that one, the film mishandles the IP to become probably the most ill-advised movie in the entire franchise.

The Predator Is More Action Comedy Than Sci-Fi Horror

Thomas Jane as Baxley, Keegan-Michael Key as Coyle, Olivia Munn as Casey Brackett, and Boyd Holbrook as Quinn McKenna firing weapons in The Predator (2018)

Strangely, the 2018 film also innovates in an incredibly unexpected way. Despite the action-heavy sci-fi horror premise of previous films, it takes a far more comedic tone. The inclusion of Keegan-Michael Key should probably have hinted at this, but the film’s script repeatedly attempts humor from all characters in almost every scene. It’s an odd choice, to say the least.

With a group of wise-cracking soldiers at its heart, The Predator makes its alien hunters seem far less deadly than it should. Instead of the slow picking-off of characters that previous movies have established, these soldiers engage the aliens in combat multiple times and survive. It’s only in the film’s final scenes that it remembers it needs to up the body count, leaving its conclusion feeling rushed and less impactful than it should be.

For all its shortcomings, it’s still an entertaining movie. Its action sequences are competent, and its characters are likeable. Despite its poor handling of the franchise and a few questionable narrative choices, it’s a lot of fun. If you can get past a little crappy CGI, that is.

Rating: 55%

Summary: It’s far more confused about its identity than the fourth film in a franchise should be, but it’s still just about worthy of the name.

Highlight: The final promise that Boyd Holbrook’s protagonist will return is one that hopefully will be fulfilled (although it looks doubtful).