Predators: You'll Be Game for This Hunt
The Predator, that other alien that has become a thing of sci-fi and comic book cult geekdom over the years, has returned to theaters to reload its own franchise. It’s been a staggering twenty years since the last Predator film. Predator 2, starring Danny Glover as a cop who seems to go one desperately belligerent step further than those action junkies in Hot Fuzz, took what was great about its predecessor and cranked it up to moronic levels, resulting in the proper franchise’s dormancy (those Alien Vs. Predator films were a tangent – and not a very good one).
Predators brings us back to where it all began… sort of.
Like the Schwarzenegger 1987 original, this film takes place in the jungle and focuses on a unit of hard-hitters. Only this time they aren’t a tight-knit group of comrades and they aren’t in the jungles of South America. In Predators, directed by Nimrod Antal (Armored) and produced by Robert Rodriguez (Desperado), we are introduced to a group of wary, yet similar, strangers who meet incidentally while trying to get their bearings on very foreign terrain.
Of course, they soon come to realize they are on another planet, one that acts as a game preserve – and they are the game. These fish-out-of-water and stalking elements add more intensity to the situation than Schwarzenegger’s heavyweight brawl because we feel something may be watching the characters from the first and could suddenly attack at any moment.
The cast is locked and loaded with star power. Adrien Brody’s involvement in an action film should never again be deemed suspect. His roles in King Kong and Predators, as well as his con man in last year’s comedy The Brothers Bloom, his awkward ventriloquist in Dummy, and his star-making role in The Pianist proves Brody has considerable range as an actor. What Brody lacks in last-action-hero muscle, he more than makes up for with grizzled apathy and cunning in Predators. Brody is the anti-Arnold, both in build and disinterest in the safety of others. His character is much more than a trained killer; he can track, outwit, and become like his adversaries, making him a worthy prey for the hunter species… and a dangerous ally for those around him.
Rounding out the cast is Alice Braga (Repo Men), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix), Topher Grace (In Good Company), and Danny Trejo (everything). M. Night Shyalaman has been touting The Last Airbender as the most racially diverse film ever, a movie where the lead characters were largely whitewashed. Meanwhile, Predators features a cast of main characters that includes a Russian, an African American, a Latino, a Jew, and Caucasians. Also, the lead character is a minority and the most bad-ass Jew I’ve ever seen on screen.
Predators is a sequel that honors and enriches its subject. It also accomplishes nearly everything needed in a great sci-fi thriller: it is well-written with good dialogue, well-acted, and features good special effects (save for one explosion), great pacing (our characters don’t even encounter a Predator until at least 20 minutes into the film), higher intensity, and gorier kills. The ending isn’t solid and there are a couple nits that could be picked regarding our team’s logic, but all of that is forgivable considering everything else that is right on target. It may not be flawless, but we should be grateful that a movie of this kind is as good as this when too often these movies turn into bargain-bin schlock. It is the first proper sequel to the 1987 original and the most fun I’ve had at the theaters this summer (so far).
Should you see it? Buy tickets
Predators is in theaters now.