The Predator is... funny? It’s not something I thought I’d be saying, but after seeing a couple of exclusive clips from the upcoming movie, what got me most excited for Shane Black’s soft reboot is the amazing chemistry between the cast, the hilarious jokes they batted back and forth and, of course, the Predator-on-Predator violence. Sitting down to watch the sneak peek 20th Century Fox prepared for us, I was keen to get a look at the new Predator film, which held promise despite the franchise seemingly running dry a long time ago (Alien vs. Predator… *shudder*). I didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for one of the funniest clips I’ve seen in a long time and if the whole film mixes humour and violence in the same way, we’re in for a treat. Now is a good time to say that if you want to watch The Predator completely spoiler-free, be warned, I’m going to be talking about the two clips I’ve seen, in detail, below.
The first clip is the perfect introduction to the main cast as Olivia Munn’s Casey Bracket lies unconscious on a bed in a rundown motel surrounded by a ragtag group of soldiers who are bringing her gifts of water, sweets, and unicorns made out of tinfoil. Straight away you can tell these aren’t your usual army guys and as she starts to rouse, they panic like school children caught doing something they shouldn’t and quickly back off so as not to “freak her out”. Standing to one side of the room and trying to act as normal as possible (and failing), they wait for Bracket’s reaction and boy is it worth waiting for. As she wakes up Munn’s biologist is clearly concerned about the men who are just stood watching her, but it’s quickly apparent that she’s already been through some kind of Predator encounter so she initially appears to opt for explanations over escape.
And then, boom! She’s up off the bed in lightning speed, grabbing the shotgun which has been carelessly left within her reach and pointing it at the soldiers with a calm precision that suggests she’s more than just a scientist. The group of soldiers couldn’t be more delighted and you can hear exclamations of “I told you she’d go for the gun!” mixed in with the general excitement and comradery being passed back and forth. Munn doesn’t let their unusual reaction shake her though and she continues to point the gun at Boyd Holbrook’s Quinn McKenna demanding they let her go. He’s adamant that they can’t let her go outside and the pair square off, each self assured and strong in their position, and all the while the rest of the men in the room are laughing, joking around, and enjoying every minute of the staredown until Bracket feels she’s warned McKenna enough and pulls the trigger…
Once again, the soldiers go wild (“I told you she’d pull the trigger!”) as the empty barrel spits nothing forth and Munn realises she never had the upper hand. Not one to give up easily, she makes a break for the door anyway, but is stopped by one of the group who apologetically makes it clear he can’t let her leave without putting hands on her. Finally resigned to not getting out of the room any time soon, she turns towards McKenna and demands answers. The whole group joins in with what they think is going on, but it’s clear none of them really know yet, and as Bracket continues to make angry demands it becomes too much for one of the soldiers. “Yeash, you’re pushy,” he mutters. “Did you just say ‘eat your pussy’?” Munn exclaims - and so erupts an argumentative exchange between the pair with one of them adamant that he said ‘eat your pussy’ and they other swearing he said ‘yeash, you’re pushy’ and both repeatedly saying both phrases over and over again to hilarious effect. And the best bit is that you’re not even sure what he said, but his childlike indignation makes it clear that whatever happened, it wasn’t a threat or anything else which might have made the sequence icky, so instead it’s just childishly hilarious.
If this all sounds a lot more sinister than funny, then I’m telling it wrong. While the core plot point of the scene might read as; defenceless woman caught in world-ending events is tormented by her male saviours/captors, the whole sequence is given a hilarious wash thanks to the background banter of the supporting characters (jump to 0.58 in this trailer for a taste of what I mean). They aren’t laughing at Bracket, they’re laughing at each other. At those who lost the bet, at their awkward and sometimes even shy reactions to the strong woman within their midst, and at the ridiculousness of the situation because even though we don’t know at which point this scene comes in the movie, it’s clear that something really bad has happened and they don’t know how to handle it. This is clearly a close knit group of individuals who have been through a lot together and so have no problem ragging in on each other like family, which not only injects a fun and light-hearted edge to the scene, but is also incredibly watchable.
The whole scene is a lesson in character development and so expertly done that you don’t even realise you’re starting to feel a strong affinity for these individuals only seconds after meeting them. So often, action movies lack well-rounded characters who feel like real people, but even if this is the only time we really get to know these characters in The Predator, it’s enough. Munn plays the scared yet capable biologist to perfection and the soldiers are pleasingly unusual in the world of blockbusters as well. Too often do we see a group of male soldiers and one woman take on the big bad in an action movie and every single one of them is painfully one-dimensional. From the outside, The Predator looks like it’s repeating that pattern (I mean, why can’t at least one of the soldiers be a woman too?), but this very human and funny scene, proves that this hero group will be able to hold our attention throughout the film.
By comparison, the second, much shorter clip is all action and used to show off The Predator’s other big selling point: Predator-on-Predator violence. The footage is further on in the movie and an extension of the scene you can see from 1.39 to 1.48 in this trailer. Bracket, McKenna, and McKenna’s son Rory (played by Jacob Tremblay) are trying to escape from a Predator, which is hunting them through what looks like a school building. Just when it looks like it’s the end of the road for the trio, the Predator is pulled out through a window by a massive Hulk-like Predator, which lacks any armour but makes up for it with muscles. He throws the smaller Predator out into the street and squishes him like a bug while Bracket, McKenna, and Rory run towards a vehicle containing the rest of the soldiers and quickly speed away, all the while trying to take the big Predator down. Suffice to say, they don’t manage it, and it looks like he’s going to be the one to beat come the finale.
I don’t want to say too much about this new kind of Predator because it’s clearly a big plot point for the movie and not knowing everything going in is half the fun, but the fact that Fox showed a character-heavy and funny clip and an action-packed Predator sequence has me hopeful that the entire film mixes humour and action in the same way. If it does - and it pulls it off as well as I’ve seen in the preview footage - it might be time to welcome The Predator franchise back with open arms because it’s finally got something new to say.
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