A Predator veteran and a great writer/director in his own right, Shane Black’s the man for the Predator sequel.
When Shane Black’s name came up in relation to another reboot of the Predator franchise, some people were cynical. What does the Lethal Weapon/Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang scribe know about our favourite interplanetary, vagina-faced skull collector? Doesn’t he specialise in scripting films where the white guy and the black guy trade quips while filling bad guys with hot lead? Didn’t he sort of turn Iron Man 3 into a de facto Lethal Weapon 5, by putting Tony and Rhodes in a wisecracking handgun shootout situation at the end, with an overheating Mike from Neighbours?
Not only did Shane Black help with the script on the original Predator movie, he was also in it. You remember him, right?
Well, yes. But isn’t John McTiernan’s 1987 blockbuster a perfect example of a film where white guys and black guys (and a Native American guy) trade quips while filling bad guys with hot lead? Also, yes. And, what’s more, no one seems to realise that not only did Shane Black help with the script on that film, he was also in it. You remember him, right? The guy who told jokes about his girlfriend’s spacious genitalia. He was the first one to get Predatored. If anyone knows how to save the franchise, it might just be Shane.
Further reading will tell you that Mr Black is not interested in rebooting, rather he would prefer to make a sequel or a prequel. With Arnold back in the movie business and still capable of causing pretend death to countless on-screen adversaries, it would be a cinematic crime not to have the character of Dutch involved in some way. Perhaps he’s part of the establishment now, like Carl Weathers in the original film, and sends our new young hero into the jungle on a false premise, only for his party to be theatrically decimated by something. You know, something? The sort of something that’s out there, waiting for us. And it ain’t no man.
Like all long-lasting franchises, the Predator’s tenacity lies in its simplicity. The idea of being hunted by an unseen foe is as old as the hills. Notice I didn’t say successful franchises – Predator (like Terminator or Star Wars) doesn’t endure because people have always made the right choices when creating sequels or spin-offs; it’s still with us because of the affection people have for the original, and because the expanded universe is often full of products far superior to more recent film adaptations. It’s not alien healing technology which keeps Ol’ Preddy alive. It’s our love.
Could a film like Predator be made today? Possibly not. The recent Robocop reboot reminded us that, in order to secure a big budget, marketing, etc, compromises have to be made. In that film’s case, the hero’s guns were replaced with a sort of taser technology, which made it possible for Murphy to kill everyone in the face for two hours, but few of them really died, so the studio got their PG-13 rating, and Little Timmy’s Xmas stocking was full of chocolate ED-209s. Cynics made ‘bleh’ noises on the internet, but the film itself was actually quite solid, well-paced, and respectfully mindful of Verhoeven’s original satirical masterpiece.
Luckily, we’ve moved on as a society since the 1987 Predator. If you want so see most of that stuff now, you need to pay for HBO
In the late 80s, skinned carcasses and exploding Jesse Venturas were par for the course, and everyone walked around with the mini-gun from an Apache helicopter strapped to their shoulder. Good guys dispatched baddies with terrible, sub-James Bond lines. Women were accessories, objects or prizes. And the musical scores all either sounded like John Williams or actually were John Williams. There were also boobs everywhere. Luckily, we’ve moved on as a society since then. If you want so see most of that stuff now, you need to pay for HBO.
Can Shane Black make a straight, non-pastiche, Predator sequel in 2015? It’s debatable. There will have to be some nods to the original, a film which may contain the most quotable lines of any film in existence. There also needs to be some Arnie, some camo face paint, some jokes, some explosions, and (most of all) some CHOPPAH. What shouldn’t happen though, is anything that happened in this film, which I’m pretty sure was patched together from discarded bits of script from West Side Story, Boyz N the Hood, and Babe 2: Pig in the City.
All images: 20th Century Fox