Monday, July 12, 2010


Predators - Directed by Nimród Antal, written by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch, starring Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, and Laurence Fishburne - Rated R

It's not as good as the original (but then again, what is?), but it is the sequel Predator 2 should have been.

I am a huge fan of Predator. It is one of my favorite action films of all time and my friends and I quote it and praise its greatness to this day. Then Predator 2 came out and messed it all up with its mediocrity. I hoped that Predators could rectify that misstep. I am glad to say that it most certainly has.

Predators is a film about hunting, much like the original. The concept is taken a bit further this time around, though. The film features a lineup of killers from around the world who have been transported to a game preserve planet to be hunted by the titular Predators…or are the humans the Predators?

It surprised me a bit that the film would ask such a question of the audience. I was expecting a straight up crazy action film, but what I got was a relatively slow paced action movie about hunters and humanity. I’m completely cool with that, though. If I want a quick injection of pure testosterone, I’ll put in the DVD of Predator. There will always be the original, so it’s nice that this sequel tries to be a little more thought provoking.

No one really wants to think when they watch this movie, though. The audience wants a bunch of tough characters firing big weapons. Predators delivers on that level. It’s impossible to top the cast of the original, but this film’s hunters hold up well. When I first heard that Adrien Brody was the lead, I was skeptical, to say the least. As it turns out, I found him completely convincing as a hardened and deadly mercenary. He may be trying a bit too hard with the tough guy voice, but it’s forgivable.

Brody is backed up by Alice Braga, who serves as a kind of second in command. The rest of the crew basically just follows Braga and Brody. Topher Grace, though, is notable in the fact that it makes absolutely no sense why someone like him would share company with these killers. This is not a weak casting choice or anything, though, and the film makes good use of his peculiarity with some comic relief here and there. Walton Goggins as a convict and Laurence Fishburne as a rattled survivor provide a few amusing moments as well.

There may be a bit of comic relief, but this movie is quite serious for the most part as the focus is on Brody’s character’s stance on humanity. There are many scenes in which Brody thinks a wounded character should be left behind or that he should leave the others to fend for themselves. It’s not a wholly original concept, the soldier losing touch with humanity, but it is handled well and I found it interesting.

But more importantly, how is the action? Those looking for the classic Predator action will be pleased. The Predators make good use of their shoulder lasers and blades. And of course all of the supplanted killers get to fire off their weapons. The action is easy to follow and appropriately gory. On that note, the creature effects live up to the original, thankfully sticking with practical elements as much as possible. Of course, there has to be CG in such a film, and it is on the up and up for the most part.

The action, acting, atmosphere, and plot are all enjoyable here with no major problems, but all of the references to the original film are what I found most entertaining. First, the music is almost identical. There are also a few repeated lines of dialogue (“Over here” and “Kill me now!” being the most notable). So a lot of fan service is provided and I’m okay with that. The greatest fan service comes from the Yakuza character, who is basically like Billy from the original film. If you wanted a more climactic finish for Billy in the original, you get one from the Yakuza, who throws down with a Predator with a samurai sword. The scene is shot much like a scene from Seven Samurai and it was by far my favorite scene.

Predators is the sequel fans deserve. It doesn’t surpass the original (a nearly impossible feat, anyway), but it does provide fans with an enjoyable action film. Most importantly, it’s a return to form for the series, which was getting a bit too ridiculous with the Alien vs. Predator series (which I actually enjoy). This film is a return to the proper Predator world: a jungle, a group of trigger happy killers, a few laughs, and plenty of blood. Bring on Predator 3 as far as I’m concerned.

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