Predators – Review


It looks good, at least

It’s interesting how a joke involving Rocky Balboa fighting an alien has become a cinematic franchise. When Predator first hit the silver screen in 1987, action aficionados had an action version of The Magnificent Seven that hadn’t really existed beforehand and that the film’s star (Arnold Schwarzenegger) had always wanted to do. With a much-maligned sequel starring Danny Glover, and two significantly maligned crossover films involving the Alien franchise created by Ridley Scott, there never has been a sequel that captured the spirit of John McTiernan’s action classic until now. Predators, envisioned as a sequel to the original without the baggage of the other films in the franchise involved, manages to become a proper sequel to the film by doing one thing right: capturing the original’s fighting spirit. Unfortunately it doesn’t do much else beyond that.

Royce (Adrien Brody) is an American mercenary who finds himself in the midst of a number of other killers on a strange planet. They are an interesting group including An IDF sniper (Alice Braga), a death row inmate who considers rape as a hobby (Walton Goggins), a member of the Russial Special Forces Spetsnaz (MMA legend turned actor Oleg Taktarov) and a doctor (Topher Grace) who seemingly has no place amongst a group of battle-hardened killers. Discovering that they’ve been taken from combat on their own planet to be game in a preserve for the same race that stalked Arnold and his crew in 1987, it becomes a fight for survival as two groups of Predators hunt the group. Thrown in the mix is a crazed survivor of the hunting (Lawrence Fishburne in a cameo role), as well, and Nimrod Antal has all the elements of a proper, first rate sequel.

And Antal does something right that no one else has been able to get right: the face of tough hard-asses looking at death without fear or hesitation. These are tough men who’ve done acts of unspeakable cruelty across the globe and have no problems with it. These aren’t killers tinged with regret; these are men whose hearts hardened years ago and who no longer need to justify what they do with their ethics or moral leanings. They may be on a foreign planet and the prey, as opposed to the hunter, but they have only one goal: if they can find it, they can kill it. It’s refreshing to see after all these years of crappy sequels, but that’s about the extent that he captures of the original (or of a good film). The rest he borrows from Predator or just ignores.

The first wasn’t a bastion of character development by any means but it did have something more to offer from its characters besides the horror film fodder they end up becoming: a reason to care. There was a modicum of character development, a reason to care about these guys in the middle of the jungle. There was a true unity of purpose beyond killing an alien hunter; the mission into the jungle gave us an insight into why and how they operated. This was a team with roles, purposes, et al. Predators features the same character types as the original but without any of the nuance. This is just a number of actors picked to fill the same roles as the originals with some slight cosmetic changes. It’s easy to see where he, and the film’s script, is going but it’s also a bit annoying because one would expect that killers from across the globe wouldn’t all much up nearly exactly to the original characters of the film. We’ve seen this before and it’s not interesting, including the film’s finale which has been used in nearly every horror film over the last decade.

And with the exception of ramping up the effects, Antal hasn’t really done much but remake Predator. He uses many of the same audio cues and a large portion of the original score, as well as recreating a number of iconic moments from the original film with a slight variant on it and an open ending to make it appear to be the first film in a franchise. While it certainly has recreated the appeal of the original, Predators has recycled everything else.

Director: Nimrod Antal
Notable Cast: Adrien Brody, Lawrence Fishburne, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, Danny Trejo, Oleg Taktarov, Walton Goggins
Writer(s): Michael Fitch and Alex Litvak based on characters created by Jim Thomas & John Thomas

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