Predators Review

Posted on July 16, 2010 by

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Warning: This review contains minor spoilers. If you want the short answer- Yes, go see it. Otherwise, read on…

I’ll tell what I’m not going to do. I’m not going to cover myself in mud, I’m not going to waste a lot of ammo shooting into the empty jungle for an exorbitant amount of time, and under no circumstances am I going to suggest that anyone should ‘get to da choppa’. Probably.

The original Predator is one of the most highly regarded (by me) films of its kind (either B-Movie, Action movie, or Schwarzenegger movie, take your pick). It turned the big, burly manly action hero commandos into the prey of something much more badass awesome than most of them could ever hope to be, which was only eventually defeated by a Terminator (Okay, that might not be true). It boasted action, shouting, gunfire and people’s arms getting blown off. Predator is easily one of my own top ten action movies.

Predator 2 on the other hand… Well, to be honest, the less said the better. Most people don’t like it, and there are very good reasons for that I have neither the time nor the sheer mental determination to list. Let’s just say that I, and many other fans, would rather Predator hadn’t happened. There are even those of us who wish that Robert Rodriguez had been allowed to make the Predator 3 he had written, and which the world will never see. What we got instead was the Alien Vs. Predators films and… Ugh. No, I don’t want to go there. Suffice it say that at last, at long, long last, Predator has a true sequel. Predators.

In much the same way as Aliens came after Alien, and improved upon the original, so has Predators to Predator. I’m not saying it’s better than the original, because that would be heresy and I would be burned at the stake, but I would say it’s very nearly as good, and a vast improvement on every film that came after it. It starts things off in style too. With no explanation as to how he got there, or why, Adrien Brody is plummeting through the air in free-fall, using his massive nose to guide his flight path towards the ground. Allright, I know that I of all people shouldn’t make light about people having big noses (my own being quite impressive) but that hooter is seriously distracting, and it can be quite hard to take him seriously as a badass mercenary when every close-up looks like the camera is being sucked up his enormous nostrils, which is a shame because Brody is actually very, very good. An automatic parachute opens shortly before he hits the ground, and then we get the title. This movie isn’t mucking about- it gets straight to business.

Not long after, Danny Trejo, the man who has made a career as the scariest mexican man in the entire universe drops out of the sky next to Brody. So do several other people, including Alice Braga as a black-ops sniper, Oleg Taktarov as a Spetsnaz soldier. Soon after, they encounter the rest of the badass abductees- Mahershalalhashbaz Ali the RUF officer, who is busy tussling with Steve Buscemi lookalike and death-row inmate Walton Goggins, and my favourite character in the film, Louis Ozawa Changchien playing a mostly-silent Yakuza enforcer. Oh, and Topher Grace as a ‘doctor’. How he keeps getting jobs is beyond me, but at least he was okay in this.

It doesn’t take them long to work out that they ain’t on Earth anymore, what with all the big planets in the sky and the alien monsters running about. It takes even less time to realise that the planet they’re on is a ‘game preserve’ (The exacts words they use to describe the planet, which came across to me as being quite the assumption to make based on the very few facts at hand, but hey, they were right, so who cares!) and that they’re being hunted. “Hunted by what?” you ask, having been living under a bridge for the last thirty years and not being able to work it out from the title. Well, by Predators. That’s right, the title has a double meaning. Not only is it an allusion to Aliens, but there are also multiple Preds in this once. Oh, and they come in two flavours- Classic, of which there is one (Of the sort that battle Arhnold in the original) and all-new funky fresh type who are basically super-predators. There are three of them.

As Angry Joe mentioned in his review, there’s some backstory about the Predators revealed in tiny snippets through the film that I really want to see expanded upon in future sequels. For instance, it’s implied that the Preds have been abducting the toughest son’s of bitches from planets all around the galaxy for at least the last few centuries, using them to hone their skills and talents as hunters and killers. Why? And perhaps even more interesting, why the two different kinds of Predators seem to have some sort of civil war going on. Did the Classic Predators create the super-preds as an experiment to create a better killing machine? Did they then rise up and overthrow the old Predators?

There’s a reason I find the Predators such compelling… foes? enemies? villains? Seriously, what do you call these guys? They’re antagonistic but they don’t really seem evil- Because so much of them is left unknown. They never communicate with one another beyond basic howling and screaming, and you have to wonder if their whole culture is like that, or if these guys are just like the rednecks of the Predator race, while most of them are busy doing office jobs in three-piece suits, like some sort of terrifying crab-faced accountancy firm. But while that enigmatic nature is intriguing, I long to know more about just what their motivations are. We know they exist in the same universe as the Xenomorphs, are they at war? Is that why the Super-predators now exist? Super-soldiers bred to battle the alien menace, who run amok once the killing is over?

The human characters are all excellently played here too. Brody as the ex-military mercenary who takes charge, sniffing out trouble with his gargantuan snout, Changchein as the Yakuza enforcer who decides to take on a Predator alone with nothing but an ancient Katana, and Braga as the only girl on the team, who is routinely forced to make the hard choices because no one else cares (and who knows of the Predators from Arnie’s reports after the events of the original film). I have to admit (grudgingly) that I did not hate Topher Grace in this film. He played his role very well- a man claiming to be nothing but a humble doctor, who is more than meets the eye, and gives off a subtle air of creepiness and wrongness that you can never quite pick up on.

My one complaint about the cast is Laurence Fishburne, as Noland, a soldier who got abducted years ago and managed to survive alone by scavenging and hiding. Over those years, he’s gone slowly nuts. He’s brilliant, but tragically under-used. He provides much of the exposition about the Predators- that they come in two kinds, what they do, that they come in threes, the existence of one of their spacecraft nearby- and we also learn that he has killed at least two Predators himself, (given how much trouble Arnie had with just one Classic Predator, no mean feat) but we never see him in action. In fact, he’s probably not in more then ten minutes of the film, which was a massive disappointment to me because those ten minutes are some of the best of the film (Robert Rodrigeuz has hinted that a future instalment may well be a prequel detailing Noland’s escapades).

The story itself is pretty basic- the most hardass people on Earth get abducted and dropped on a different planet to act as game for alien hunters- but there are many small details peppered throughout the film that suggest there is a lot going on that we simply don’t see or learn about. Roughly halfway through an entirely new and unique alien life form is encountered and killed in all of twenty seconds, attacking the humans because it mistook them for Predators. What was it? Where was it from? We may never know now. The story also has some twists you probably aren’t going to see coming, a rare thing in an age where most people are pretty genre savvy- such as the heroes teaming up with one of the Classic Predators as part of their escape attempt- a scene which also suggests that unlike their new brethren, the Classic Predators still believe in honour.

Overall I found that movie kept me engaged and entertained, and left me wanting more, and with a movie like this, what more can you ask for? Absolutely worth seeing on the big screen, and a promising place-holder for the Predator series. Fingers crossed for further excellent instalments. As I stated at the start of the review, this is the true sequel to Predator, and a brilliant summer popcorn movie.

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Posted in: Movies