Predator is easily recognized as one the high points of 1980's action films, which is from a period that produced some of the best action films we know. It was followed by the success of Alien, which was an excellent hybrid of sci-fi and horror. Seeing that Hollywood has been rebooting a number of franchises from the 80's (e.g. Die Hard and Indiana Jones), it's surprising that it took so long for the Predator series to be revisited (excluding the Alien vs. Predator movies). However, this time Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal are taking a stab at this popular material in the producer and director‘s chairs.
A group of humans are thrust into the middle of a mysterious jungle planet. This mixed group contains an American mercenary (Adrien Brody), Israeli sniper (Alice Braga), Russian soldier (Oleg Taktarov), Sierra Leone rebel death squad officer (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), Mexican drug cartel enforcer (Danny Trejo), death row inmate (Walton Goggin), a doctor (Topher Grace) and a Yakuza assassin (Louis Ozawa Changchien), because no team is complete without a man with a sword. This ragtag group is forced to work together as it's being pursued by three powerful predators that hunt them and pick them off one by one.
Predators had to go on a long journey starting in 1994 when Rodriguez first pitched the idea. A number of directors were considered for the job including Neil Marshall (The Descent), Peter Berg (Hancock), and Marcus Nispel (Pathfinder) before Antal got the gig. Antal does a decent job, creating a dark, broody atmosphere while keeping a B-movie quality. Predators is fast-paced with a combination of action, horror, and humor. With a budget of $45 million, the special effects are strong and it is entertaining with a wide range of weapons used. But Antal is fond of showing the same scene from different angles, which is just an old-fashioned, pointless action trick that is outdated.
Antal does not hold back on the violence, which is what the audience wants to see in a Predator movie and he is subtle early on in the film when some characters disappear. He was able to bring in some moments of style and good creature designs to show he was more than a gun-for-hire.
The acting was of a decent level, but nothing beyond that. Brody is a talented actor and is obviously trying his best, but he was miscast as the tough action hero. His character was the most interesting, having to be a cunning and ruthless leader. Grace was in the film to offer comic relief and he did that pretty well for the most part. The only other actor was Braga who was basically okay in the film. Most of the other actors were just stock characters waiting to be picked off by the Predators. Laurence Fishburne was also in the film, but his acting was nowhere near his usual high standards. We don't get to know these characters very well, which is a big letdown.
The main problem with Predators is the writing. The film was written by two rookie writers and it seems they do not have a certain understanding of elements from the original film. One Predator was able take on a team of U.S. Special Forces fairly easily in the original, so three predators should be able to fight a team of individuals, two of whom are only armed with a knife and a scalpel and another with a pistol -- a bit of a continuity error there. Added with inept, bland dialogue it ruins the illusion of film.
The writers do attempt to bring in some interesting subplots, such as a blood feud between two breeds of Predators, but doesn't expand on it enough. There is fun to be had showing characters using their special forces skills and many of them are ruthless in their approach considering none of them were good guys back on Earth. The best aspect of the writing is bringing in a simple set-up, which harkens back to the original. From then on out, however, it doesn't match the quality.
Directed by Nimrod Antal
Written by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch (screenplay), Jim Thomas and John Thomas (characters)
Starring: Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Dinah Thought: "Predators is a worthy follow up to the 1987 classic starring Austrian action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although it didn’t best the original, the sci-fi horror easily trumps the Alien vs. Predator outings. Nimrod Antal and Robert Rodriguez have created a satisfying action picture, but it lacked the bone-chilling tone expected of hunter-and-prey horror. The movie triumphed in pacing and characterizations, excluding one overdrawn personality near the end of the film. The creators showed an appreciation for the alien species introducing other vicious plant, animal and even predator life forms. With a bit of tinkering, the film could have struck the bullseye squarely, but even a bit left of center it hits the mark." Rating: 7/10
"The good news about Predators
, the reboot of the classic franchise made famous by action legend Arnold Schwarzenegger is that it is by far the best entry in the increasingly slouching series since the original. Unfortunately, Predators
is ultimately a disappointment, not a crushing one, but certainly a surprise considering the talent present throughout. Robert Rodriguez who came up with the story as far back as his Desperado
days (and also serves as producer) seemed unable to transfer his charismatic style to this feature and what we are left with is a rather bland sci-fi action feature. The setup is compelling, finding a group of human predators
on a dangerous alien world who must learn to work together but the execution is contrived. There are no surprises to be experienced, with character after character being slowly picked off. The saving grace of Predators
is director Nimrod Antal’s competent direction and the performance of Adrien Brody in the lead role. If a sequel was to come about, I hope they would completely shed the familiar template and ramp up the electricity and leave us breathless rather than yawning. Rating: 6/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.3/10