Movie review: Predators

Remake, reboot, whatever it is, “Predators” at the very least clears the memory of the two bastardized “Alien vs. Predator” films, which were so terrible they threatened to sink the franchise for good.

And while this new film isn’t going to set any new standards for the sci-fi/horror genre, it does a good job of honoring the first film while adding in some layers of its own.

(“Predator 2,” a movie I will argue is just as good, if not better, than the original Arnie version, is largely forgotten.)

Robert Rodriguez apparently wrote the script for “Predators” 15 years ago, and at one point was slated to direct, but I’m glad he passed the baton – something about his frenetic style would not have worked with the deliberate nature of the hunt by both the creatures and our “heroes.”

Flying right into the action, we are greeted with the sight of a man free-falling from an unknown source into a lush jungle. Before long, other bodies are falling from the sky, each armed to the teeth and ready to shoot at the slightest provocation. Where are they? Why are they here? And who is behind this?

Slowly but surely, the pieces start to fall into place. The point man is Royce, a cold-hearted man-of-action played by the decidedly unaction-y actor Adrien Brody. Royce figures out that everyone in this ragtag group is a trained, professional killer – with the exception of a nerdy doctor played by Topher Grace – and that their new location is a hunting ground for … something.

That something turns out to be our old friends the Predators, who have been hunting skilled prey for years, adapting to the various skill sets their challengers bring to the alien planet and honing their killing technique. Of course, it seems patently unfair since the Predators have cloaking devices, those triangle-shaped lasers and the handy explosive devices on their arms, but hey, it’s their rules.

You know in a movie like this that there will be some sort of pecking order as to who will bite the dust when, but even I was a little discouraged to see Danny Trejo get taken out so quickly. That leaves the comely sniper Isabelle (Alicia Braga), the hotheaded death-row inmate (Walton Goggins), the cool Yakuza member or the burly Russian with a heart.

Director Nimrod Antal previously helmed the yeomanlike films “Vacancy” and “Armored,” and he brings a similar style to this movie. There’s nothing particularly special about the proceedings, yet there’s a level of competency and skill that helps keep things moving.

Brody is an out-of-the-box choice to play a rugged killer, and while there’s no doubt that he’s a fine actor, he sometimes struggles here with the typical tropes of the action world, such as barking out expletive-filled commands. Grace is another strange choice, and he doesn’t have much to do until the end, but even then, I still wasn’t exactly buying his character.

The ending is downright awful, and while I know they want to leave the door open for future sequels, there must be a better way to do so. It’s as if they realized they were either out of time or money and simply decided to call it a wrap – this is the kind of film where closure works, and the film offers none.

I’m glad to see the Predators back on the screen, however, doing what they do best and not having to be shoehorned into some awkward plot where they want to help save humanity. We all know that’s not what they have in mind.


~ by Elliott on July 20, 2010.

One Response to “Movie review: Predators”

  1. Hey, I saw this flick!

    Not bad, if you don’t go in expecting too much from it. Brody was probably the worst part of the whole thing; he just can’t fit the bill. Maybe if the movie worked harder to be ‘non-traditional’ then he would have worked better as the merc badass he was trying to be.

    All through the thing I was playing the ‘who’s gonna get it next’ game in my head. Turned out I made some bad bets on the order of things. Duh. Shoulda known they’d follow the formula more or less…

    Hey, did you get a ‘Machete’ preview when you saw it? I did. And then to see Machete himself transported onto this jungle hellzone was kind of annoying and jarred me out of the movie for a sec.

    Anyway, it’s definitely the kind of movie you could nitpick to death if you wanted to. (Y’know, like, cool yakuza guy was apparently there just to find the convenient samurai sword so he could have an awesome-looking sword fight with the alien who conveniently discovers his own sense of honor and doesn’t blow up yakuza guy outright but instead engaging him with his knife thingies. Stuff like that.)

    P.S. Laurence Fishburne was kinda fun, no?

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