Having appeared as an actor in the original film, Black takes the director’s chair and co-wrote the screenplay for the fourth instalment of the Predator franchise. The Predator stars Trevante Rhodes, Sterling K. Brown, Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn and Keegan-Michael Key.
In Black’s film, the alien hunters return to Earth after a boy in the suburbs triggers their return. Serving as the human race’s only line of defense are a group of former soldiers and a science teacher.
Mintzer praised Black’s comic approach to directing the film that “strays rather far from the original film.” “It’s a totally gonzo method that mostly pays off because of all the snappy dialogue, gross-out gags and tongue-in-cheek camaraderie of the cast, with Boyd Holbrook proving to be a capable lead and Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane and Olivia Munn providing worthy, and often funny, accomplices,” Mintzer writes.
Mintzer wrote that the film was vastly different from previous films in the Predator franchise in terms of tone. “While the other Predator films tried to remain dark and tense, tossing in a decent one-liner here or there, Black’s movie is so cleverly over-the-top that it’s easy and pleasurable enough to watch, though never exactly scary or suspenseful.”
Jim Vejvoda, writing for IGN, wrote that The Predator’s “bawdy sense of humor, disorderly cast of characters, and hardcore kills and action” goes a long way to reinvigorate the franchise. Vejvoda writes that the film brings a “humanity that’s been lacking in the series for some time, and the solid ensemble cast Black has assembled bring his (and co-writer Fred Dekker’s) battered creations and sharp dialogue to life with verve and conviction”
But, in what seems to be a recurring theme amongst critics, Vejvoda feels the film comes unglued in the third act. “The last half-hour is not only choppily executed at a breakneck pace, it just looks bad to boot. The visual effects take a noticeable dip in quality during an aerial battle and the climactic showdown is too easily resolved given all the buildup,” he writes.
Slash Film’s Chris Evangelista wasn’t entirely sold on The Predator, giving it a score of 6.5/10, and comparing the film’s reliance on humor to Thor: Ragnarok, feeling the film was fun while watching but flawed overall. “While there have been a handful of amusing moments in the Predator franchise as a whole, no single film goes for as many wall-to-wall jokes as Shane Black’s The Predator,” he writes. “Anyone worrying that Black wouldn’t bring his trademark quips and witticisms to the script (the trailers have been considerably light on this element) need worry no more: The Predator is loaded with jokes. In fact, there might be too many jokes.”
Evangelista isn’t entirely sure whether the cavalcade of gags will put off purists arguing that “some may long for the franchise to return to its serious roots.” He concludes by noting that “after you exit the theater into the real world, the flaws of The Predator become more and more apparent. The plot doesn’t make sense. A lot of the jokes fall flat. There’s a pointless sequel set-up. But while you’re watching the movie, it’s hard not to get caught up in all the fun. Black and company are having a blast here, and it’s infectious.”
Digital Spy‘s Hugh Armitage found that “Black’s smart script and a charismatic cast” make The Predator the best film in the series since the first movie. “Black is known for his witty dialogue and doesn’t disappoint, building the relationships between a large cast and making it look easy.”
Armitage concludes that the film is fun if you don’t take it too seriously. “The Predator is a flawed actioner, but a strong cast and some Shane Black magic give it a sparkle that has been lacking from recent attempts to revive the killer aliens. It’s not Black at his best, but it’s a fun diversion as long as you don’t think about it too hard.”
The Predator hits theaters on Sept. 14.