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'The Predator' review: The latest in the franchise doesn't feel like a 'Predator' movie

The Predator in  "The Predator," the latest movie in the franchise. Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox/Kimberley French

It’s been more than 30 years since audiences were first introduced to the universe’s deadliest hunter in 1987’s “Predator,” a testosterone-fueled action flick that helped define the over-the-top tone of the era. Since then, sequels and crossover films have failed to capture the interstellar reptilian magic of the original. Now, we can add the latest addition to the series, “The Predator,” to the...

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It’s been more than 30 years since audiences were first introduced to the universe’s deadliest hunter in 1987’s “Predator,” a testosterone-fueled action flick that helped define the over-the-top tone of the era. Since then, sequels and crossover films have failed to capture the interstellar reptilian magic of the original. Now, we can add the latest addition to the series, “The Predator,” to the attempts list.

Directed and co-written by Shane Black, who played squad member Hawkins in the original film, “The Predator” follows Army sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), who has a close encounter with a predator when its ship crash-lands nearby during a mission. The alien hunter kills his squad, but McKenna escapes, and is interrogated about the incident by a shadowy government group that has worked to keep the predators’ existence a secret.

Dr. Casey Brackett (Olivia Munn), a biologist with a penchant for aliens, is summoned by the group to investigate a captured predator, which is believed to have human DNA. Known as the Fugitive, that predator is actually on the run from a larger, more advanced predator, or Yautja, known as the Upgrade. Ever the warrior, McKenna joins another squad known as The Loonies — a group of downtrodden military veterans — to stop the Upgrade and save the world.

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For an action movie, that’s pretty complicated, and, as a result “The Predator” suffers from serious tone and pacing issues. Instead, it feels more on par with Black’s other movies — think “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” or “Lethal Weapon.” It doesn’t much feel like a “Predator” movie; the horror elements that permeated the original and made it so compelling are gone.

Mostly, “The Predator” isn’t sure if it wants to be a comedy or not. The characters — a suicidal ex-corporal (Trevante Rhodes), a military veteran with Tourette syndrome (Thomas Jane), and another who copes with PTSD through humor (Keegan-Michael Key) — spew endless quips. While “Predator” had a sense of humor, it wasn’t front-and-center like it is with Black’s version.

"The Predator” is far from the worst of the series — that honor, after all, belongs to 2007’s “Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.” Callbacks to previous films lovingly recall the series’ past successes, if a little too often. As a fan, it’s hard not to be at least a little enamored by a new predator creature.

For fans of the series, maybe that is enough to make the film a success.