Main cast: Adrien Brody (Royce), Topher Grace (Edwin), Alice Braga (Isabelle), Walton Goggins (Stans), Danny Trejo (Cuchillo), Oleg Taktarov (Nikolai), Mahershalalhashbaz Ali (Mombasa), Louis Ozawa Changchien (Hanzo), and Laurence Fishburne (Noland)
Director: Nimród Antal
Predators is as much producer Robert Rodriguez’s homage to the original Predator movies as it is a sequel to those movies. Indeed, this movie is intended to be a “bigger scale” sequel, the way Aliens was to Alien. This one, therefore, moves away from Earth to what seems like the home planet of the Predators, and several new types of those aliens are introduced. Not that the new types will matter, as for a long time, these aliens are invisible threats and when they do appear, things happen too fast for me to really take note of what they look like.
The story is simple. By some, er, alien means, several clichés, oops, tough action-oriented folks from Earth are taken away and dropped into what seems like a dense jungle when the story opens. Royce is a mercenary, Isabelle is a sniper from the Israel Defense Force and token female, Stans is a death row inmate about to be executed, Nikolai is the obligatory Russian soldier, there is Yakuza dude Hanzo who naturally has a katana scene, and the drug lord dude Cuchillo. Oh, and there’s the doctor, Edwin. No one knows why he’s with these bunch of gun-totting people, although it’s foreshadowed early on that he’s not what he seems to be. It doesn’t matter who or what these people are, actually, as they are just one-dimensional types running around in this movie, most of them will be killed in one way or the other. It is easy to deduce who will last to the very end of the movie by counting the number of lines they have. Yes, this is that kind of movie. Anyway, it isn’t long before they realize that they are being hunted for real by some unseen thing – things? – so they will have to put aside their differences if they want to survive.
The actors are, for the most part, competent enough to pull off their one-dimensional roles. Adrien Brody put on some muscles and speaks as if he’s auditioning for the role of Batman in Christopher Nolan’s revival of the movie franchise, but he’s not completely successful in pulling off the role. He does look the part, but his role is too one-dimensional for his character to be memorable. Since Mr Brody lacks the larger than life presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the original movie, his character relies on good lines and memorable scenes to make an impact. The script doesn’t give that character any of these.
Still, the movie is fast-paced and I like the no-nonsense back-to-basics approach taken by the director, the unfortunately named Nimród Antal, in serving up the suspense and violence. The first two-thirds of this movie is all charged up to fire the adrenaline and keep me at the edge of my seat. Unfortunately, the movie goes downhill once the Predators show their faces, as the movie proceeds to rush into an incoherent frenzy of killing off one character after another while transforming the Predators into killer Energizer Bunnies with dreadlocks. I don’t want to spoil anything, so let me just say that the twist involving Edwin is unintentionally hilarious. Topher Grace is adequate in that role, but the lines he is forced to say during the reveal are pure schlock.
For a pleasant diversion, this one isn’t bad at all. It’s almost a good throwback to the spirit of the original Predator movies, as it delivers ample thrills and chills. The characters are forgettable, however, and the weak late third of the movie makes the pay-off of sitting through this movie rather weak. I enjoy watching this one, but I doubt I’d remember much about it a week down the road.