The combo of Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Planet Terror) producing and Nimrod Antal (Kontroll, Vacancy) helming Predators, the latest installment in the dreadlocked-lizard-mantis-space-beasts franchise, sounded promising. With subject matter that's clocked in two features, two Alien crossovers, countless novels, video games and comic-book spin-offs, a spicy version seemed called for. What we get is a watered-down redux of the 1987 Schwarzenegger version with just a few twists.
Things start off well with black-ops mercenary Royce (Adrien Brody) in a terror-ridden free fall, hurtling down toward the jungle terrain with a faulty parachute pack. Turns out he's not the only one to have fallen from the sky. Plopping down on an alien planet are a bunch of elite killers, including an Israeli sniper (Alice Braga), Russian Special forces fighter (Oleg Taktarov), a soldier from Sierra Leone (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), a Yakuza (Louis Ozawa Changchien), Mexican drug enforcer (Danny Trejo), and American death row killer (Walton Goggins). It becomes apparent that they've been deposited onto some sort of game preserve and they're the intended fresh meat.
Hungarian director Antal's Kontroll was a fascinating film, but now he barely squeaks by with clunkers like Armored. I excepted to see a lot more fast cuts and dizzying edits especially with Rodriguez pulling the strings, but this movie meanders into "what next" mode with characters trying to figure out where they are and what they're dealing with. Problem is that we already know what to expect because we haven't been dropped out of an airplane... we've been to the movies before.
Then there's the predator himself. He still looks cool and is equipped with the following skills: he can camouflage himself into thin air, beam down into any place with Star Trek precision, shoot lasers from his shoulder, hack your head off with his gigantic knife, blow shit up with his computer wrist band, scream so loud you have to double over, but you can still knock him over with... a tree branch? C'mon people, destructible or indestructible? Make up your mind.
Predators serves up enough frantic chases, explosions and neon-green blood spewing, but it's also somewhat monotonous, with a bad fadeout ending that provides little reward for the characters and audience alike. At first Predators felt like it had the right intentions, but then skated by for the remainder. With such a concept ingrained in our movie-viewing psyche, why not take it further?
Starring Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace, Sophia Braga,
Directed by Nimrod Antal