REVIEW: Predators

Directed by: Nimród Antal
Written by: Alex Litvak & Michael Finch (screenplay)
Starring: Adrian Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, and Laurence Fishburne

If someone had told me at the beginning of the year that Adrian Brody would be the sci-fi star of 2010, I would’ve either chuckled or responded with “Yeah, so?”  With his performance in Splice as a genetic engineer he gave us an emotional core, and with Predators he returns to the King Kong action hero he surprised us with in 2005.

Predators is another franchise reboot, and it’s not too bad.  For the action-junkies out there looking to avoid Despicable Me or any of the other 3D cash-ins of the week, here is a semi-intelligent, well-made thriller.  It borrows from The Most Dangerous Game, which in its original form is a demented guy who brings people to his island so he can hunt them.  Here, it’s high-tech aliens.

Imported fresh from earth to be hunted through a vast jungle planet are a hoard of the most dangerous types of mercenaries, gangsters, marines, and psychopaths.  Director Nimród Antal doesn’t have them sitting around in a circle explaining their past sins, and thankfully the script doesn’t have them dying based on how famous the actors are.  There is a sense of dread that any of them could go at any time, and they often do.

The world of Predators is one where survival is key, and helping people often gets you killed or stabs you in the back.  The humans are just as predatory as the sophisticated hunters watching them from the jungle.

As far as visuals go, it is one of this film’s biggest assets.  I was not expecting anything eye-popping, but a sword fight between a Yakuza member and one of the Predators was beautifully shot and executed.  There are only so many ways to make a jungle look unique, but  Antal finds pretty much all of them.

Besides Brody, the rest of the cast also holds their ground.  Topher Grace is surprisingly adequate, especially considering his terrible foray into action with Spiderman 3.  Laurence Fishburne’s cameo, while brief, is still pretty entertaining.  However, I’m glad he didn’t stick around the whole time.  The off-beat, non-mainstream cast really aids this film, especially Brody.  It was my first hint that this may not be just another summer dud.

You won’t really care about all of the characters, which isn’t a huge problem with a Hollywood action flick like this.  The R-rating definitely helps lift it out of the corny bloodless fights of most of its kin, but the gruesome deadpan of some of the one-liners will still sting.  It’s also quite a formulaic “team” movie as well.  There’s the leader, the girl, the genius, and the grunts; all of which play their typical roles even if they are picked off randomly.  Studios can’t be called on to take too big of risks with their big budgets, so I guess we’ll have to settle with baby steps.

This film is the very definition of summer escapism.  With its eye-popping visuals, visceral shootouts, and suspenseful and tautly edited hunting games, Predators is a thrill ride without the 3D surcharge, which makes it all the more worth boarding.

Grade: C+

8 thoughts on “REVIEW: Predators

  1. You know what else got a chuckle out of me? A guy with a name Nimrod!! He..he.. sorry, can’t help myself. Yeah, I’d never thought Brody as an action star, but I saw a pic of him and Gerard Butler sitting next to each other at a Lakers game a while ago and I thought, is Brody getting any workout tips from Leonidas? 🙂

    I have no interest in seeing this movie, but I’m just curious, is this a reboot of the Arnold Schwarzenegger back in the 80s?

    • Yeah… it’s impossible not to laugh at the name Nimrod. If the movie had been terrible, it would’ve almost been to easy to pan him. And yeah… Brody has a very interesting career and seems like he just does whatever he wants.

      And it’s kind of a reboot of that 80s franchise, but it’s also a separate installment.

  2. I was expecting more, not just a retrea of homages and predictable scenes. Some elements really impressed me but I felt like this was not as grand as it could have been.

    Halfway through it I felt like this was what that shot for shot remake of Psycho tried to be…only this was a little bit more flattering and came replete with heavy amounts of fan service. Hey, it won’t win an Oscar but it’s good enough to be a summer movie. You called it, “summer escapism”:P

  3. I just saw this today. Disappointing movie and it was barely entertaining enough for a summer blockbuster. The storyline is paper-thin and the action is nothing spectacular, it’s a generous C+ for me as well.

  4. I was mildly curious about this movie. I didn’t buy into some of these dangerous people. They seemed like pussycats to me. Topher Grace’s arc was weird and out of place. Laurence Fishburne’s scenes were completely and create a plothole with the way that he was introduced. The action was fine as was Brody. The story was the biggest weakness of the film.

    • Yeah, the story wasn’t even something I thought about afterward. The basic premise is interesting, but to enjoy the movie I just payed attention to some of the well-executed action scenes and look past a lot of the characters. And yeah, Grace’s story was weird but I was surprised I didn’t cringe every time he opened his mouth.

  5. I liked it. It did what I was expecting and was a whole lot better than the appalling AvP Requiem. Like you say, I don’t think we need to care about these characters – they are bad guys and perfect fodder for the Predators. But I did like Brody and thought he did well in the role. Fishburne was a bit wasted for me though – I was expecting more when he was introduced.

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