Predators (2010) Reviewed

Walton Goggins (left) clearly realizing he packed inappropriately to be hunted in the jungle.

Predators, the fifth film to feature the battle-prone beasties, has the remarkable distinction of being the first Predator movie I actually enjoyed. I’ve always been puzzled by the popularity of the durable series and annoyed that the predators were ever deemed significant enough to share marquee space with monsters from the (infinitely superior) ALIEN series. I hate when comic-book fanboy wet dreams are given the big-screen treatment. Just because you fondly remember Tron doesn’t mean the damn thing warranted a sequel, and likewise a comic-book cross-over like the ALIEN vs Predator franchise made about as much sense to me as pairing Gremlins with Ghoulies or Superman with The Greatest American Hero. Neither (official) Predator movie could hold a candle to even the worst ALIEN movie (ALIEN3?). And lets not even waste breath on either of the “vs.” titles.

There’s nothing special about Predators. At times it comes across like an exceptional made-for-Syfy movie or a particularly grueling pilot for a new season of Survivor. The plot can’t be bothered to be much of a plot at all. The entire premise can be summed up in one sentence: A motley band of heavily-armed criminals and killers is (literally) dropped onto Planet Predator as game to be hunted by two breeds of the equally-armed heat-seeking “ugly motherfuckers.” That about sums it up. Who needs back story or exposition? Not this movie, and honestly, there’s something refreshing about that.

Adrien Brody, a morally-suspect special-ops soldier, takes charge of the multi-ethnic group of snarling misfits; a veritable United-Colors-of-Benetton character-actor buffet of awesomeness that includes Danny Trejo and Walton Goggins. Alice Braga is the token tough broad and Topher Grace is a suspicious MD. Halfway through Laurence Fishburn waltzes over from left field for a brief appearance as a mysterious survivor from the predators’ last hunting weekend.

Brody is sculpting a surprising genre-packed action-hero resume; probably because he’s dang good at it. That said, Predators is a movie that doesn’t quite need quality actors to pull off what it’s attempting. His role could just as easily have been filled by Dolph Lundgren and the final product wouldn’t suffer much.

Considering the racial make up of the cast, characters die in the order you’d expect and the last rough-necks standing are equally unsurprising. But the action is pretty much non-stop (good call for a movie like this) and the effects, both practical and CGI, are mostly seamless. A handful of fresh ideas also give the flick a boost in the form of alien-planet bloodhounds and the above-mentioned introduction of a new breed. There are lots of booby-traps, double-crosses,  and questionable alliances as well as plenty of non-taxing tough-guy dialogue.

As fun as it is forgettable, Predators is a respectable sci-fi action movie– and how many more of those can you name?

** – two stars out of four

"Only YOU can prevent forest fires, Mr. Brody!"

~ by willnepper on January 17, 2011.

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