Movie Review: Predators
What’s a guy like Robert Rodriguez to do when he’s set to begin work on a new Predator movie and The Governator is no longer available for such roles? Well, since Brock Lesnar’s acting career hasn’t yet begun, you naturally go the complete opposite direction and cast an All-American puny-man like Adrien Brody. Brody, who has earned his man-cred by landing a wet one on Halle Berry at the Oscars much more so than by starring in dude-approved actioners and slaughter fests, actually works quite well in the role.
Rodriguez, acting as producer here, and director Nimrod Antal (Vacancy), who by all accounts was named after a Green Day album, had a strong vision for what they wanted this film to be. It’s a rare reboot that does the original justice (paying it much homage along the way in terms of score and atmosphere) while still setting a precedent that is all its own.
Or is it a sequel? Well, the characters reference the original movie so I guess I’ll call it a sequel.
Silly sequel/reboot dilemma aside, Predators takes us away from the original’s Central American setting as Brody is joined by a smorgasbord of seasoned killers who have been unwillingly dropped onto an unknown planet that serves as a game preserve. Among the standouts is Alice Braga (City of God), who is about 100 times sexier than Michelle Rodriguez and even more believable as a badass. Topher Grace (“That 70’s Show”) is also on board as the team’s medic, who serves as an anchor to the them and as comic relief to the audience. And of course, we’ve got Danny Trejo (Machete) as, well, the Danny Trejo type. Accept no imitations!
As the title suggests, the predators in this sequel are multiple. We have the standard-grade predator, still surviving from the 1987 original, as well as several other highly evolved breeds. There are even some horned doggie predators, who are the undoubtedly the nastiest movie canines since the juiced up pups Ang Lee’s Hulk.
The acting is particularly strong for a movie of this genre, especially from Brody, but the film-stealing performance comes from Lawrence Fishburne, whose turn as a delirious killer who has managed to survive on the foreign planet for years brings to mind Brando’s legendary performance in Apocalypse Now. Oscar voters with any balls would nominate him in a heartbeat.
Predators is a bit slow in spots and it feels slightly longer than its 106 minute runtime, but one thing that works in its favor is that it manages to capture a feeling of claustrophobia that approaches the levels reached in the original. The movie has a Cube-like effect between its characters, who have no idea how or why they arrived on this planet. They don’t trust each other and in many cases are just as big a threat to one another as the predators are. I could have done with more of these types of scenes and less (if any) of the cumbersome fighting between rival predators.
It isn’t a completely necessary installment, but unlike the franchise’s previous sequels and spinoffs Predators is inspired, fun and best of all, it doesn’t feel like a cash-in.
RIYL: Predator, Anaconda, Cube.