“If it bleeds, we can kill it.”
When it comes to movie aliens, there may be none more dangerous than the Predator. A metal-masked hunting machine with weapons to spare, it tracks its prey from the treeline, blending into the foliage with its cloaking device. One by one, it picks off its victims using heat-seeking technology, claiming their skulls and spinal cords as trophies. That is what sets the Predator apart from the galaxy’s other most menacing extra-terrestrials: they kill by instinct; the Predator kills for fun.
In the years since Predator was first released in 1987, the creature has been the subject of three sequels, two spin-offs and various video games and comics. It has fought the Xenomorph, Batman and even the residents of Riverdale. With a new prequel slated for 2022, this edition of Ranked takes a look at the four films in the Predator franchise to determine which deserve a place in the trophy room and which should be left on the jungle floor.
4. The Predator (2018)
“It’s like an alien Whoopi Goldberg.”
Ironically, the worst entry of the Predator series was helmed by one of the original cast members.
Shane Black’s 2018 update to the series tries to crossbreed some classic ‘80s action movie mentality with a more modern take, yet the whole thing doesn’t quite work. The tightly controlled snappiness of Black’s other work (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang; The Nice Guys) is absent here, and you can practically smell the studio interference on the editing which often feels like a jigsaw with the pieces put in the wrong places.
Tone is also quickly established as a major issue as the film becomes a self-aware comedy in which there are groan-inducing call-backs and jokes abound. Sure, there are lines of dialogue capable of getting a laugh or two – this is a Shane Black film, after all – but amongst the one-liners and awkward Tourette’s-based humour, any sense of atmosphere or danger is lost. Most of the elements seen here have been implemented better earlier in the series, and the lack of practical effects and over-reliance on CGI take away what little fun there may have been in watching the alien slaughter its victims, leaving The Predator feeling like the latest brainless actioner on an ever-growing pile.
3. Predator 2 (1990)
“Hey, kid. Welcome to the war.”
Swapping the tropical jungle for a concrete one, Predator 2 is hampered by the fact that it never really makes entertaining use of its new setting, instead restricting the action to alleyways, apartments and warehouses. Given the Predator’s affinity for hiding in the branches of trees, the lack of rooftop scaling seems like a missed opportunity, and the whole production ends up feeling a little cheap, despite having a higher budget than its predecessor.
To its credit, Predator 2 is the only franchise entry to break away from the guerrilla team dynamic, with Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon) giving a sweatily intense performance as Harrigan, a Los Angeles police lieutenant who makes it his own personal mission to find the killer responsible for a series of seemingly gang-related murders, unknowingly putting himself squarely in the Predator’s sights. Bill Paxton (hopping over from another certain sci-fi horror sequel) assists Harrigan while Gary Busey competes with the Predator to see whose toothy jaw can open the widest.
Outside of a couple of interesting scenes, Predator 2 just isn’t all that engaging, focusing too much on the voodoo gang wars that run amuck in futuristic L.A. instead of the titular alien we want to see terrorising the streets.