When the reboot of the Predator franchise was announced with Shane Black at the helm, it held the promise of a self-aware actioner. But what we have now is a film that has neither the muscular action that the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle offered, nor the strapping comedy that Black has been capable of serving up for his audience. So cross-eyed is the film that even though comedy and action cross paths - which is very often - they only serve to invalidate each other.The film with a definite article in the title doesn’t waste time in any introduction of the creature, but cuts to an intergalactic fight which results in an alien ship crashing within the jungles of Mexico, where a tense hostage situation is underway. Post an obvious combat, ex-U.S. military sniper, Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) escapes with an alien mask and weapons which according to him have been safely couriered back home where his little son lives.The film is written by Black and Fred Dekker, with whom he wrote the ‘80s cult The Monster Squad. Both writers inject trademark whacky tunes into the proceedings, swishing a bunch of characters who are referred as ‘loonies’. They are ex-military men suffering from PTSD, who in the imagination of the film, peddle one-liners resulting from their individualities which range from someone suffering from Tourette’s to another who is a believer of the Bible. All these men (played by Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, and Augusto Aguilera) are joined by McKenna in a bus that’s destined for the lobotomy ward but gets dissuaded because the captured Predator wakes from its shackles. And thus begins a game of catch me if you can.Turns out, Predators have also been watching too many fugitive movies. The result: one bigger Predator is hunting for a smaller one.If the film’s supposed lead Holbrook gets a direct pass into the hall of fame of the most boring action figure ever (much like his outing in Netflix’s Narcos), it doesn’t help that two of the other important characters are also drawn with thin brushstrokes. Olivia Munn’s biologist Casey Bracket exists as the chosen explainer of the sci-fi plot, and then abruptly turns into an expert gun-smasher without any journey. Interestingly, the controversy surrounding the film robs her of the introduction her character deserves.Munn is simply meant to fill in the spot of a token female presence and neither she rises above the jokes she is subjected to, nor gets a chance to prove her action mettle. Jacob Tremblay, the wonderkid from Room (2015) plays McKenna’s autistic son, Rory who’s a boy genius. This is the only character to lead the empathy brigade, but the film treats his condition as a plot contrivance. The only actor who chews his scenes well is Sterling K Brown, a merciless government agent cleaning up classified mess-ups, but again, he doesn’t get enough material to play on.By the end, you realise that it’s been a set-up for future sequels, and what goes before that is a botched attempt to rejuvenate an ‘80s blockbuster.The narrative has no real footing: the action never really leaps out of the screen to dazzle you with clarity or coherence, and the comedy, amped up by potty-mouthing never really lands the punches.To make matters worse, this confused cocktail of a film jumps forward so haphazardly, you wonder what really happened at the editing table.Black has been the toast of Hollywood for his genre-savvy screenwriting flourishes, and his films were wonderful riffs on noir. The Predator however behaves like a studio funded schlock that tried to ape Black’s moves, and came out limbless. The deeper design of the film never reveals itself, and the its wink at its own pre-existing mythology never seems sincere.In the 1987 original, Black played the first on-screen victim of the Predator, and this time, he has gotten back to the dreadlocked extra-terrestrial with writing and directing.He might not have seen it coming, but the viewers of The Predator are sure to figure out why the original knew better.(The writer is a journalist, a screenwriter, and a content developer who believes in the insanity of words, in print or otherwise. He tweets @RanjibMazumder). We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.