In 1987, writers Shane Black and Fred Dekker teamed up to create a nonsensical, ugly little adventure about a team of outcast misfits determined to kill monsters. The outcasts—and the film’s intended audience—were children.

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Unfortunately, Black’s unique talents (Lethal Weapon, The Nice Guys) don’t lend well to family movies, and the resulting mess, The Monster Squad, was rightfully forgotten by everyone except the sort of snot-nosed dipshit kid who’d say, “Yeah, The Goonies was okay, but it really coulda used more casual homophobia.”

In 2018, Black and Dekker (ha!) have reunited to write a new adventure about a makeshift monster squad—but this time, instead of foul-mouthed kids, it’s foul-mouthed grown-ups, and instead of Dracula and the Wolfman (DID YOU KNOW: The Wolfman’s got nards!), it’s Predators!

What difference do 30 years and an R-rating make? None. Because The Predator is also a nonsensical, ugly misfire full of terrible ideas that would have barely been acceptable in 1987.

Now, none of the decisions in The Predator are as bad as, say, Black’s choices behind the scenes. (Casting a friend who’s a registered sex offender, not telling anyone he’s a registered sex offender—on a set containing children—and then icing out star Olivia Munn when she spoke up and got the registered sex offender deleted from the movie.)

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But there are plenty of bad calls in the movie, too, like the decision to make The Predator as authentic an 1980s action flick as possible. The Predator doesn’t sample an outdated clichéd aesthetic; it is that outdated clichéd aesthetic. This is a $100 million Golan-Globus movie—an incoherent cartoon full of slop and jank drowning out the brief sparks of charm thrown by actors who deserve better (including Munn, Sterling K. Brown, and Keegan Michael Key).

The Predator is the kind of conceptual whiff that, decades ago, Black could blame on poor execution by other directors. But Black directed The Predator—now the blame is his alone. Unless your bar for clever is still set at “Wolfman’s got nards,” there’s not a lot here to make all this effort feel anything other than wasted. recommended

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