The Upgrade Predator, or Ultimate Predator, is the name of the new form of Predator that was seen in 2018’s The Predator from Shane Black. The Upgrade Predator is a fully CGI creation crafted by visual effects studio MPC Film.
The film begins in space with the Upgrade Predator in his ship pursuing another ship. The ship contains the Fugitive Predator who is later revealed to have stolen some important Predator technology from him. Upgrade does some severe damage to Fugitive’s ship but he jumps into hyperspace, escaping Upgrade. Fugitive’s ship crashes on Earth and is captured by a government agency.
The Upgrade Predator arrives in Earth’s orbit and begins scanning for his target. Meanwhile, Rory McKenna is in his basement and is playing with a Predator device. Upgrade flies into Earth’s atmosphere and activates the ship’s cloaking mechanism. Rory inadvertently decloaks the Upgrade’s ship using the device which in turn, makes his ship appear on the military radar. Upgrade reactivates the cloak while the military sends some F-22’s to check out the anomaly.
Rory is still using the device and decloaks the ship again, this time in front of the F-22s who have to make a swift manoeuvre. Upgrade flies over the base where Fugitive is escaping while being pursued by two F-22s. The F-22s manage to attack the Predator ship but Upgrade fires off a blast which destroys one of the F-22s.
Upgrade later lands his ship in the middle of a forest and exits the ship with two Predator Dogs. He lets the dogs sniff a rag to track down the Predator device. The dogs attack Rory and The Loonies at the school and then the Fugitive Predator hunts Quinn and Rory inside of the school. As Fugitive throttles Quinn, the Upgrade Predator reaches through a window and drags Fugitive threw it. Upgrade changes his skin to give himself armour and asks Fugitive where the stolen technology is. Fugitive manages to fire a blast of his shoulder cannon towards Upgrade but misses. Fugitive then uses his wristblades which simply snap off against Upgrade’s tough armour. Upgrade quickly kills Fugitive.
The Loonies escape and Upgrade sends a transmission back to his clan informing them that the traitor has been eliminated and he will track down the stolen cargo. His clan asks if there are any human leads and replies “Several”. Upgrade later arrives at Quinn’s residence, killing several government agents and scans the basement for clues. Rory has drawn a map to the location of Fugitive’s spaceship. The government agents make their way to Fugitive’s ship while the Loonies attempt to free Rory. Lynch is acting as the sniper for the team but Upgrade severs his arm with a plasma blast. Upgrade descends onto the site, killing many military personnel and enters the Fugitive Predator’s ship.
The military have set up a translation device to interpret the Predator language. The Upgrade Predator uses this and tells the humans that he has come here to destroy this vessel and you should run. He says that he detects one among them who is a true warrior – the one called McKenna. The group initially think he’s talking about Quinn but instead it is his son Rory. The Upgrade gives the group a 7 1/2 minute head start to escape. Upgrade prepares the ship’s self destruct mechanism and exits the ship. He pursues the group into the forest while the ship explodes.
Upgrade catches up with the group, kills numerous military personnel and is seen in the trees biting the head off a soldier. He descends from the trees and attacks the group. He fires his wristblade at Casey who uses the Fugitive’s mask to deflect it. The masks falls to the ground and accidentally fires off a blast which hits Upgrade. Upgrade falls back into a trap the team had created which covers him in a highly flammable gas. Nebraska fires a shot, igniting the cloud of gas which sets Upgrade on fire. Baxley jumps onto Upgrade, stabbing him numerous times. Upgrade throws Baxley, impaling him on a tree branch while he fatally wounds Coyle. The Predator falls off the edge and into the water. Upgrade then confronts the remaining survivors and takes Rory as a prisoner back to his ship.
As Upgrade is about to take off, Quinn, Nettles and Nebraska jump onto the ship. Upgrade activates the ship’s forcefield. Quinn hides underneath it while Nebraska jumps on top and unfortunately, Nettles his severed in half. Nebraska throws himself into one of the ship’s engines which causes it to explode sending the ship back to the surface. Quinn enters the ship and attacks Upgrade but the Predator fires a harpoon weapon which restrains him. Quinn falls out of the ship and it crashes to the ground.
A badly injured Upgrade chases after Quinn. As he is about to kill him, a cloaked Casey appears behind him and jumps on him, firing multiple shots into the Predator’s head. Quinn pushes him off the edge and he falls back towards his ship. Rory activates the ship’s forcefield which severs Upgrade’s right arm. As Upgrade attacks Quinn, the surviving Predator Dog attacks the Predator. Quinn manages to retrieve the Predator’s severed arm and adds an explosive onto the wristblade. He fires a shot into the Predator’s leg which explodes. Upgrade is fatally injured in the blast, losing all but one of his limbs. Quinn fires multiple shots into his head, killing him once and for all.
Abilities, Weapons & Equipment
The Upgrade Predator possesses the same sort of weapons as a regular Predator. He has a shoulder cannon, wristblades which could also be fired as well as a harpoon weapon that can be fired from his wrist gauntlet. He has the ability to shift the structure of his skin to give him a special form of armour. It’s strong enough to repel bullets and even shatter another Predator’s wrist blades. The Upgrade Predator was also able to use thermal vision to see his victims without the need for a mask.
- Vision Modes
- Skin Armour
- Shoulder Cannon
- Wrist Blades
- Harpoon Weapon
The Upgrade Predator is a product of hybridisation, that is to say, his DNA is made up of many different creatures from different worlds which give him even more powerful abilities. The whole idea of him kidnapping Rory is that he sees Rory and his autism has the next step in human evolution. Standing at over 11ft, he was taller, faster, stronger than a regular Predator and he could manipulate his body to give him a tough armoured exterior. He also didn’t need a mask to have thermal vision which suggests he could have some form of implant.
The Upgrade Predator was a CGI creation crafted by MPC Film and VFX Supervisors Richard Little and Arundi Asregadoo oversaw the creation of 500 effects shots including the Upgrade Predator, Dogs, effects and the CG swamp environment. MPC Film created the Upgrade Predator and the Dogs with a high level of detail so that closeups of their faces can be accomplished. They also had an upper torso created on set so the actors had something to focus on.
The battle between Fugitive and Upgrade is a mixture of live-action and CGI. The scene where the characters set a trap for Upgrade and is set on fire was challenging for the Animation, Lighting and FX Team as they had make it look convincing that he was really on fire. In the final battle, after the ship crashes, MPC Film created a full CGI swamp environment and created a 360-degree CG set extension with FX water. While on set, Kyle Strauts played a lot of the Upgrade Predator in a motion-cap suit. (Read our interview with Kyle Strauts)
- This is the first time a main Predator in a Predator movie is a purely CGI creation.
- As with the Tracker Predator in Predators, he uses Predator Dogs to assist him tracking his prey.
NECA released a 11″ ‘Assassin’ Predator figure in 2019. The figure includes two interchangeable heads, a wrist cannon, a removable gauntlet blade, and more.