Predators (Devil’s Advocate Review)
Finally, after what seems like at least 3 years, another Predator movie. This time, however, we’ve lost the Alien component, gone back to the jungle, and also gone back to people who know how to make good movies, namely Robert Rodriguez (executive producer) and Adrien Brody (star). While they do succeed in many regards, Predators does have its flaws. Weaknesses which the titular hunters will use to their advantage. There, in the tree!
The premise is simple: the Predators kidnap a group of people from Earth, all of them killers in one regard or another, and drop them into the jungle on an alien world in order to hunt them. Our “heroes” consist of mercenary Adrien Brody, Israeli sniper Alice Braga, doctor Topher Grace, Russian commando Oleg Taktarov, death-row inmate Walton Goggins, Yakuza enforcer Louis Ozawa Changchien, death squad officer Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, and Mexican cartel enforcer Danny Trejo. Adrien Brody quickly takes command of the ragtag group, and hijinks ensue.
The acting and dialogue are solid, but where this film falls apart is the general plot, and the filming of many of the action sequences. The gun battles in particular are difficult to follow, as they are so frenetic that it’s nigh impossible to tell who’s shooting at what, and whether or not it’s having any effect. Early on in the film, the group is attacked by a pack of alien animals, kind of a cross between a jungle cat and a boar, and they unload on them with seemingly no effect; however, within the same scene, single shots are killing the things. Towards the end (not really a spoiler, more a foregone conclusion), the group decides they need to take the fight to the Predators, hunt them for a change…but then the story continues with business as usual. There are several ham-fisted plot conveniences in place, a character twist at the end that makes little sense, Laurence Fishburne’s role is so small that it almost seems wasteful to include it, and the score is at times overly intrusive and inappropriately bombastic. Little is done to advance the Predators’ technology or techniques from their first appearance in the original movie, despite one of the explanations given for what’s going on being, “they hunt us to learn and improve themselves.” Also, the film takes far too long to show us the Predators, whose numbers, despite the promise of the trailer, are a disappointingly low three.
Now that I’ve told you all the bad stuff, I will admit: I loved it. It is certainly flawed, but none of the flaws are enough to detract from the viewing enjoyment. Robert Rodriguez and director Nimród Antal do a great job of making a relatively low budget movie (reportedly around $40 million) look like it costs much, much more to make. There are great callbacks to the previous films in the series, especially the original, and it’s setting up a renewal of a franchise that I’m excited to see.
In short, if you like action movies, if you like sci-fi movies, if you like being a manly person, this movie is for you.