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Movie Review

Quinn McKenna is a Special Forces guy who's very effective behind a sniper scope and hair trigger. If you want some scum somewhere in the world taken out at 1,000 feet via a bullet to the forehead, Quinn's your guy.

His latest kill-the-bad-guy mission, though, was interrupted when a UFO came crashing down in his vicinity. Yep, you read that right: an unidentified flying object. And after the crash, this large, nasty-looking armored creature crawled out of the wreckage and killed Quinn's whole squad.

Well, not quite the whole squad. Quinn managed to get away. He even escaped with a few pieces of alien tech that he mailed to himself as a kind of insurance.

Insurance for what, you ask? C'mon, you've seen sci-fi movies before, right? This was a killer space alien. For all Quinn knows, the government will probably try to cover the whole thing up. And maybe make him, um, disappear.

Which is exactly what happens.

U.S. authorities somehow get their hands on said alien and tuck the beastie away in some secret facility. Then Quinn gets sent off to be institutionalized for, uh, "seeing a space alien." He's soon lumped in with a bunch of other "crazy" ex-G.I.s, all of whom run the gamut from being merely shell shocked to full-on bonkers.

Of course, the government's whole cover-up strategy goes sideways anyway. (I mean, these things always go sideways, right?)

After that captive alien escapes—and another even bigger one shows up—it's rampage time. And Quinn, a pretty biologist named Casey, and a gaggle of self-proclaimed "loonies" are the only ones left standing between deadly aliens and all the innocents in a heavily populated area.

One of those innocents, Quinn's young son, Rory (who's on the spectrum) asks about all the killing. He wonders what makes Quinn any different from other people and things that kill and murder. And after a pause, Quinn proclaims that the difference is in how much someone enjoys the deadly things he does.

But the dirty little secret, though, is that Quinn kinda likes killing things.

He likes it a lot.

So does the Predator.

Positive Elements

For all of his many flaws as a husband, dad and, well, human being, Quinn certainly loves his son. He's more than ready to put everything on the line to protect Rory. Likewise, members of Quinn's band of "loonies" eventually lurch sideways into the same heroic category—albeit still with a kind of crazed bloodlust, in some cases—risking their lives and dying to protect civilians.

Spiritual Content

One of Quinn's teammates is a Bible-carrying guy who believes that the current chaos is a sign of the end times. Other soldiers mock his beliefs, which are said to be the main mental issue that's landed him in their group.

Evolution is repeatedly mentioned in several contexts. And Casey opines that Rory's form of autism is actually the "next step on the evolutionary chain" for mankind. The film goes to some lengths to support that idea.

Sexual Content

Sleazy verbal gags abound between the film's main characters. One of the soldiers has a form of Tourette's syndrome, and it becomes a running gag to spur him into spitting out strings of vulgar sexual comments. For example, Casey, a female biologist, and this soldier banter crudely about her genitalia in one lengthy scene.

Quinn's wife is an artist who paints nudes. The camera and the characters both examine her work, and the guys comment on her detailed paintings of the female anatomy. Young Rory ends up with a playing card featuring a topless woman that he gets from one of the guys.

Casey has to strip to pass through a "decontamination" process at a secret government lab. This procedure leaves her naked and crouched on the floor during a violent attack on the facility. (We see only her bare shoulders and back.)

There's also a certain sexual tension between Casey and the group of soldiers she's with that's winked at repeatedly, especially in one scene where she straddles Quinn, facing him, during a motorcycle escape.

We hear that one character changed his first name to Nebraska because his given name was Gaylord.

Violent Content

Early on, a Predator hangs a badly mutilated soldier up from a tree by his ankles. The body is then lopped in half and the camera gazes closely as the man's entrails grotesquely ooze and dribble out. This particularly graphic moment is emblematic of where The Predator is willing to go with its gory visuals.

As the film unspools, we see people get shot in the forehead. Men's heads are lopped off with a suspended chain. Arms, legs and hands get slashed off and drop free from their bodies, or end up spiked to a nearby surface. (In one instance, a man is dismembered by a closing force field, and his severed body parts fall in different directions.) Men are bodily lifted into the air to be ripped asunder or impaled forcefully on any given protrusion. One fellow gets thrown off a tall building, and we see his body grossly splat on the pavement below.

Some folks get chomped on by large, doglike alien creatures. Still more human victims get blasted or hacked and literally pop like water balloons to splash everything with their crimson innards. A guy willingly throws himself into the whirling "blades" of a spaceship engine, instantly pureeing his body. And, of course, scores of people and almost every piece of scenery are riddled with weapon fire and explosive shrapnel.

The massive, super-resilient Predators take their lumps too, dribbling their green essence when wounded. One has its arm ripped off and loses its legs in an explosion. And a particularly large and fearsome Predator grabs a smaller one of its kind by the head and literally rips its head and backbone free from its body with one gushing yank.

A soldier admits to a suicide attempt in the past. We see a jagged scar on his temple as evidence of the botched attempt. Two badly wounded soldiers take each other's lives rather than waiting around for the Predator to finish the job more horrifically.

Crude or Profane Language

Profanities and vulgarities strafe audiences almost as frequently as bullets do here. And the film giggles about 11-year-old Rory tossing out f-bombs. Some 75 f-words and 25 s-words join multiple uses of "d--n" and "a--" and a single use of the n-word. God's and Jesus' names are both misused repeatedly, with the former being combined with "d--n" at least six times. We also hear multiple references to and jokes about male and female genitalia.

Drug and Alcohol Content

We see a bottle of prescription pills that belonged to a deceased soldier. One of the loonies chain-smokes throughout the movie. Several of the guys are seen slugging back bottles of beer and glasses of booze. Casey shoots herself in the foot with a knock-out dart. We see her stagger around afterward as she slowly loses consciousness.

Other Negative Elements

Characters steal several vehicles, including a bus, a police car and a news helicopter. Rory is called "retarded" by an adult, and he's physically and emotionally bullied by fellow students.

Conclusion

In the latest Predator reboot, we hear numerous references to the theory of evolution. We hear growling indictments of environmental abuse and its "indisputable" evolutionary consequences. We hear ruminations about the latest phylogenetic steps of mankind. We hear plucked-out-of-thin-air contemplations about the spontaneous biological morphing practices of hulked-up space aliens.

Ironically, though, The Predator feels like the latest example of Hollywood's own evolving take on the required conventions of the sci-fi genre. But what a sad and pointless mutation it is. This pic is chockful of characters and situations that don't have any point or motivation at all, other than serving the bloody, explosive action construct itself.

Why is the central protagonist tossed into a bus full of mental patients?

Why is the supposedly "helpful" alien attacking and butchering everyone?

Why does an initially bright and mild-mannered female biologist suddenly transmogrify into a raging Rambette?

And on and on it goes.

Nothing here truly makes any sense. But it sure does move along quickly: No time for character development here. And vulgarly: Characters banter foully with a self-aware attitude of meta coolness. And bloodily: This mindless reboot assaults viewers with reel after reel of gutting, oozing, dismembering and explosively splashing death.

Of course, if you're looking for dramatic engagement, emotional connection and anything truly worth watching, well, you'll have to look for that in the next theater over.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Author

Cast

Boyd Holbrook as Quinn McKenna; Trevante Rhodes as Nebraska Williams; Olivia Munn as Casey Bracket; Keegan-Michael Key as Coyle; Jacob Tremblay as Rory McKenna; Sterling K. Brown as Traeger; Yvonne Strahovski as Emily

Director

Shane Black ( )

Distributor

20th Century Fox

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

September 14, 2018

On Video

December 18, 2018

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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