Predators - A Cinematic Review
For various reasons, 1987's Predator is one of the best-remembered science fiction films of its era. Combining balls-out action with an interesting and imaginative antagonist and a cast of action stars on top form, it was a solid action film and certainly looked like a good foundation for a franchise. Unfortunately, the intellectual property has been rather squandered, with Predator 2 inexplicably being set in Los Angeles, of all places, and the Alien vs. Predator crossover series yielding two rather mediocre films and a handful of computer games of varying quality. After this mixed bag of movies and games, producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimród Antal have taken on the task of trying to give the series a new lease of life.
Immediately, Predators establishes itself as an uncomplicated film, eschewing exposition and jumping straight into the action. The film starts with the main protagonist, Royce, played by Adrien Brody, falling from the sky towards an unfamiliar jungle. After successfully parachuting into the strange surrounds, he soon finds that he isn't alone - a collection of people have been parachuted in with him, from a female sniper for the Israeli Defence Forces to a death-row inmate, and one civilian doctor who doesn't seem to belong. With unknown dangers hiding away unseen in the jungle, this motley collection of soldiers, murderers and criminals have to stick together to take on the far more threatening foes which persistently stalk them.
To be honest, Adrien Brody would hardly be my first choice for a main protagonist for this type of film, with his gawky looks which make him look rather geeky, but when the action begins, he manages to play the part of his cynical, impersonal mercenary quite well. Unlike the original, the cast doesn't contain many established action stars, instead relying on the services of some obscure actors. Considering that there isn't much time to establish any character development, it isn't a huge loss, although the actors play their parts well nevertheless.
It takes a while for the action to begin, with the opening sequences taking time to explore the previous victims of the Predators' hunting techniques. When it does begin, it's choreographed well, with the requisite amount of bullet spraying and convoluted environmental hazards that such a movie really needs, and once the Predators begin making themselves known, it all escalates towards a fast-paced finale which may not be all that clever, but which is certainly entertaining.
It goes without saying that a movie like this is rather trope-heavy and doesn't go out of its way to break with tradition. Instead, it embraces it, with a genre-savvy main character who manages to lampshade some of the more obvious places where action movies have tread before. The places where the film does break with tradition are quite welcome, with limited ammunition meaning that the characters have to be discriminate with their gunfire, and even the romance in the film being dealt with in a subtle manner. In fact, the romance plays out a lot like the same scenes in Aliens, with a respect growing between two strong characters who manage to escape a dangerous scenario.
Ultimately, though, this is an unapologetic B-movie, which will never be regarded as a cinematic masterpiece, but which has some rather interesting elements and is overall a solid action movie. At the very least, it manages to get the series back on the right track after the juvenile efforts of the Alien vs. Predator movies, and as that is all it could have reasonably been expected to do, it could be commended on that alone.
Bottom Line: Predators is a solid action movie, and a decent sequel to the original movie.
Recommendation: If you're a fan of the first one, or just simply looking for a simple action movie, check it out. If plot and character development is your thing, give it a miss.
I actually enjoyed this movie as well despite my initial hesitation. It turned out to go very well and made for a good couple of hours in the theatre. Excellent, but brief review and can't wait to see your next piece.
It's nice to see that the sci-fi fraternity has remembered what Predators are supposed to be. Predators seemed to be recast almost as klingons; honourable warriors who will fight against a common foe.
Predators are trophy hunters, they hunt for sport and only play by the rules when the rules are fun for them. They lower their technology a little to make their hunts a little more sporting but they are still leagues ahead of their prey and intentionally so, their tech-level drop is intended to prolong the hunt and leave trophies intact, not to make the fight 'fair'.
I enjoyed the film to a surprisingly good degree.
Along with the first two Aliens vs Predators games, it seems to me to be one of the few good things to spawn from the twin series since Predator and Alien.
I was very pleasantly surprised by how well Adrien Brody fitted into the role. The only other action film I've seen him in was King Kong, and he's more of a reluctant hero than anything approaching a badass character.
But as I am a huge fan of 80's action films, it appealed to me a great deal, and is a worthy sequel.
By the way, where'd you go to see it? Was it in Dublin? Because if you saw it in the Savoy, I might have been there at the same time, I saw it on release day.