MOVIE REVIEW: PREDATORS
Starring Adrien Brody, Alice Braga and Laurence Fishburne
Directed by Nimrod Antal
Written by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch
20th Century Fox
The first question I asked myself upon exiting my screening of Predators was this: do I want to watch it again? The original Predator thrilled me as a 17-year-old back in 1987, and I’ve watched it so many times since, both on DVD and whenever it crops up on TV, which is frequently. Did I feel the same way about Predators?
My initial hope was for an Alien/Aliens experience: take the original movie and go somewhere different but interesting in its own right, the way James Cameron did with Ridley Scott’s work. And producer Robert Rodriguez, director Nimrod Antal and their writers try – they switch action to a forest planet the Predators use as a hunting ground, they introduce a new type of Predator, there’s even a Predator dog – but the end result is both familiar and not unfamiliar enough.
As to the familiarities, we have Predators mimicking human voices, skinned victims, the cloaking device, a mud-covered warrior (Brody as mercenary Royce) outwitting a Predator, and Predators who rip spine and brain from their victims. But the team energy of the original doesn’t get translated, as Antal’s group of victims are trained killers, most of whom are unsympathetic or so two-dimensional that we have little invested in them surviving.You’re being hunted by Predators on a forest planet? Well, too bad for you, but I’m not sure I care.
The rather joyless one-by-one hunting of our “heroes” is mercifully interrupted by a cameo from Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Apocalypse Now) as Noland, a survivor whose years on the forest planet have left him almost insane. His performance is unhinged enough to almost make up for the oh-so-serious tone of the rest of the film.
And attempts at humour don’t play well in Predators. One conversation especially between disgraced doctor Edwin (Topher Grace) and convicted murderer Stans (Walter Goggins: TV’s The Shield) about “rapin’ bitches,” meant to be funny, comes off as simply distasteful. And that in a Predator movie!
Despite the new settings, new weapons and new creatures, Predators preserves many beats from the original – including the man-on-alien conclusion, which a buff Brody (pictured above) accomplishes with some panache – which fans of the original will appreciate. Moviegoers unfamiliar with Predator (they exist?) will like the film’s creature action and gore, but will they clamouring for the sequel for which Antal leaves the door open? We should know that by Monday morning, but I expect I’ll just keep changing channels when this one finally lands on late-night TV.