At San Diego Comic-Con this summer I was lucky enough to get to see The Predator panel featuring writer/director Shane Black and cast members Sterling K. Brown, Olivia Munn, Keegan-Michael Key, Trevante Rhodes, Augusto Aguilera, Thomas Jane and Jake Busey. Truth be told, I didn’t have much interest in the film at that point because 1) I’ve never seen any of the other Predator movies, 2) “military dudes battling aliens” isn’t a favorite genre of mine, and 3) I was way more excited about the Breaking Bad reunion panel that was being held in the same room later that day — that’s what I was there to claim a seat for.
But The Predator cast totally won me over. They had such great chemistry and shared a ton of behind-the-scenes footage and inside jokes that by the time they walked off the stage I turned to the people sitting next to me and we all agreed that they’d just convinced us to go see the movie. (They also gave us cool Predator masks, seat cushions, phone chargers and a random tube of sanitizing gel, but I digress.)
Not able to join the panel was leading man Boyd Holbrook, who stars as Quinn McKenna, an Army sniper who’s the first to encounter the Predator when it crash-lands on earth. Jacob Tremblay, best known for his wonderful performances in Room and Wonder, plays Boyd’s autistic son Rory. Brown (This is Us) is a government agent working for a group that’s been collecting evidence from the aliens’ previous visits to Earth but wants to keep their knowledge secret. Since Quinn saw the creature, he’s a threat to their operations remaining under wraps.
That’s how Quinn ends up on a bus full of military rejects destined for some sort of “therapy.” Jane, Aguilera, Allen Rhodes, Key and Game of Thrones’ Alfie Allen immediately liven things up on that bus as we get a quick introduction to each of their characters’ quirks. From there on out, the one-liners are nonstop, and that same crackling chemistry I witnessed in person came through on the big screen. The best parts of the film, by far, are when the guys — who Quinn dubs “the loonies” — are all riffing and ribbing each other.
Munn plays a biologist who joins the loonies on their rogue quest to kill the Predator. Why? Because unbeknownst to the government, Quinn nabbed some high-tech alien gear from the crash site, shipped it to his house, and it ended up in the hands of his son. The Predator knows this, and so Rory is in grave danger.
There were two things that brought me down about this movie: 1) a mean-spirited line about Rory that totally killed my buzz, even though a big message in the movie was actually quite positive about the boy, and 2) the special effects, which looked like something out of the ‘80s, and I don’t think it was intentional. The Predators themselves (yep, there’s more than one) were impressive, but any scene involving their ship looked amateur.
Overall, though, that didn’t stop me from enjoying the movie, and it really was the cast’s spark and hilariousness that saved The Predator from becoming just another “military dudes battling aliens” flick. You can tell they had a blast making this movie, and if you’re looking for some pure escapism and nothing more, then you’ll have a blast watching it.