This continuation of the Predator series from writer-director Shane Black starts out well and then peters out. Too bad: I was in its grip for a long time.
The storyline is difficult to synopsize—and that’s putting it mildly. Suffice it to say that a towering, ugly alien has landed on Earth. A secret branch of the U.S. government is examining him when he awakens and all hell breaks loose. A maverick Army sniper (Boyd Holbrook) accidentally gets involved, along with a gun-toting biologist (Olivia Munn). Holbrook winds up being committed to a psychiatric hospital and is placed in a bus with a bunch of “loonies.” They eventually band together to save themselves and, in the process, do the right thing…especially when Holbrook’s young son (Jacob Tremblay) is singled out as a victim.
I’ve tried to strip down the narrative to its essentials, without spoilers, but the screenplay grows more complicated as it goes along. At times it’s hard to follow the players without a scorecard. The script was written by Black and Fred Dekker, whose résumé includes episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise and Tales from the Crypt. Perhaps his strength is in short-form storytelling. Pop-culture expert Black provides the “loonies” some zingy dialogue and manages to work in am irrelevant reference to Hostess Twinkies in one speech, just for the hell of it.
Formulaic as it may be, this popcorn movie hits all the right notes into it drifts into autopilot mode. Along the way I took note of Henry Jackman’s terrific action-movie score, but the good work by Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, and Sterling K. Brown is pretty much for naught, along with the cutting-edge visual effects.
Genre fans may enjoy this as a weekend time-filler, or in the future on an airplane. I regret that I devoted nearly two hours to a promising picture that wound up being so mediocre.