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.