PREDATORS review by Gary Murray

PREDATORS review by Gary Murray



The Predator series has been one of the most inconsistently successful series of films put on the silver screen. The original 1987 flick was a war/rescue film with a wicked left turn that generated many cheerleaders from the blooming fanboy community. With its mix of action and sci-fi overtures, it was just the kind of film that drew in the crowds. While some of the sequels have been more successful than others, the battle between the Alien and Predator became wish fulfillment for fans of both series. Now, Austin director Robert Rodriguez steps behind the producer chair and has decided to put his spin on the tale with Predators.

The film literally falls from the sky with the opening shot of a newly awake Royce (Adrien Brody) tumbling toward the ground, trying to get his parachute to open. A last minute pop and he’s on firm soil. Almost instantly he is attacked by a frightened Hispanic guy (Danny Trejo), also from a parachute. After the scuffle, the two are attacked by gunfire from a Russian-made weapon and another person caught in the growth. This attracts Isabelle (Alice Braga), a jungle fighter. Finally, a group of eight strangers is assembled. They include a man on death row, a Japanese Yakuza gangster, and a befuddled doctor Edwin (Topher Grace).

It soon becomes obvious to all that they are not along on this hunk of land. As they make their way to higher ground, the group notices things around them make no sense, like how the sun never sets and there is no magnetic North. Finally in a clearing, the group sees the sky and it is filled with other planets. They are definitely not in Kansas anymore.

As they decide their next move, the ragtag bunch is attacked by a group of beasts that are a cross between dogs and hedgehogs. In an exciting set piece, director Nimrod Antal establishes the bravery aspects of some of individuals and gives a giant chase scene. These beasts are like nothing anyone on Earth has ever seen before. Brody basically tells the others that they are all on some kind of intergalactic game preserve, being hunted by some cloaked and unseen force – our Predators.

The film is a battle between two groups with the humans trying to find a ship in order to leave and the Predators given some interesting ‘game’ to hunt. Laurence Fishburne plays Noland, a survivor of the hunt who is playing the game of survival while going insane. The film is just one ‘who is going to be the next to die’ moment after moment until we get to the final battle and the big reveal.

This film is a very mixed bag of a motion picture. Some of the visuals are just stunning, with explosions that jump off the screen and falls into water that capture the intensity of the experience. A few moments are breathtaking. At the same time, many aspects and details make no sense. They are supposed to be on an alien world, but it looks an awful lot like the backwoods of the Hill country, with normal looking trees and rock formations that could be from any temperate zone of the Earth. Our good doctor notices a plant that becomes a plot point and no one wonders how an alien world can produce an Earth plant. More than once the visual elements feel forced and some of the shot selections do no justice to telling the tale. There is a battle between a Predator and a samurai sword opponent that is framed in an unusual manner.

The problem with the film is that once you begin to discuss different details, the more it makes no sense. While watching, one tends to go along with the filmmakers in the willing suspension of disbelief, but afterward there is little logic and even less coherence.

Adrien Brody is one heck of an actor but he makes a questionable action hero. While he acts the part, he seldom looks the part. Brody just doesn’t come off as a macho man, even when shirtless. Laurence Fishburne is lost in a role that somehow just doesn’t fit the mood of all the scenes preceding his entrance it our little drama. His crazy train seems to be from another set of tracks.

Danny Trejo makes the most of his small part and Alice Braga keeps an even keel in this boys club of a flick. Topher Grace is just miscast in what turns out to be the largest arc of character development in the film.

Predators is a popcorn chewing bit of summer fun, never meant to change anything or give anyone a reflection on the human condition. It does what it set out to do, entertain a summer crowd. It is also so set up for a sequel.

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