It pains me to say this, but how tragically wrong they were. This effort to reboot a dying franchise fails on almost every level, from the recycled plot and cast of stock characters, to the forced humour that never so much as raises a giggle, despite the actors' attempts to convince you that they're all having a good time. From the get-go, Black hits us with gun-toting action and CGI blood-spraying, and does so at an alarming rate. One can only wonder if Black had hoped we would be too distracted by the carnage and endless exposition to realise how stupid the film actually is, but it's hard not to notice when the main character begins the film by mailing alien tech back to his family from Mexico under the government's nose. Former army sniper turned mercenary Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holdbrook) is busy on a retrieval mission when he witnesses an alien craft crash to Earth. His crew are wiped out, but Quinn manages to flee with an alien helmet which he sends to his estranged wife Emily (Yvonne Strahovski) and autistic son Rory (Jacob Tremblay). While Quinn is interrogated by the government, the Predator is taken to the lab for experimentation. Yes, you've already guessed what happens next.
As the Predator wreaks havoc and more arrive for the fight, Quinn is thrown in with a bunch of military prisoners, who all are crazy in their own way. They consist of Trevante Rhodes, Augusto Aguilera, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key and Alfie Allen, and provide most of the film's 'humour'. They are supposed to be lovable but really aren't, but Quinn evidently trusts them enough to leave them alone with an unconscious Olivia Munn. Had they been given a personality, or some actual funny lines of dialogue, the gang may have helped cover up many of The Predator's flaws, but the film has the same uncomfortably conflicted feel of Black's Iron Man 3, which struggled to juggle the director's independent sensibilities with the restrictions of a franchise. It's flashy, colourful and rarely pauses for breath, but doesn't have a style of its own. People are thrown into huge objects to get up like nothing has happened, there's military tough-guy speak, and somebody at one point even yells "get to the chopper!". It's a bunch of thrown-together Easter eggs and action beats you've seen a million times before. I doubt this is the last we've seen of the extraterrestrial trophy-hunter, but it's certainly time to lay him down to rest for a while.