Eight strangers find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings at the start of Predators.  One by one, they literally drop out of the sky and land harshly in the middle of an unknown jungle, ejected parachutes assuring their safe arrival.  (A ninth character isn’t so lucky.)  They come from all over the world.  Sierra Leone, Chechnya, Guatemala, Mexico, Japan and America.  None of them have any idea where they are and why they’ve been brought here.
Adrien Brody plays one of the Americans, a gruff, seemingly self-centred ex-military guy who quickly figures out the serious danger this group faces.  Lovely Brazillian actress Alice Braga is the Guatemalan warrior who recognizes something she had only previously read about.  Olag Taktarov is a Chechnyan freedom fighter with two kids.  Louis Ozawa Changchien is a member of the Japanese mafia who has a very good reason for not saying very much.  Topher Grace is a seemingly wussy doctor.  Walton Goggins is an ultra creepy death row inmate who fights African Mahershalalhashbaz Ali for reasons that are never really made clear.  Longtime character actor Danny Trejo rounds out the cast.
Not long after the group comes together, they are suddenly attacked by a pack of wild "dogs", to use Brody’s description.  Good thing most of them brought along their heavy artillery.  Just when it looks like Braga is going to have to off herself before one of these hideous wildebeests takes her out, the survivors of the pack retreat.  Someone or something orders them to back off.  Hmm.
As our heroes reach the edge of a cliff early on, the horror of their reality soon becomes clear, thanks to a rather lovely visual.  Somehow, they’ve been plucked from Earth and are stranded in the middle of a game reserve on an unknown alien planet.  They’ve literally become prey for the same type of malevolent hunters that bedeviled Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Glover back home.
If this sounds terribly unoriginal, you’re right.  There have been numerous films about the hunting of humans for sport.  Think Hard Target, Surviving The Game or The Most Dangerous Game.   The twist here is that the hunters aren’t human.  That doesn’t make it any more interesting.
Glacially paced, the good looking Predators functions as a watered down, humourless retread of the brutally efficient original.  Like its 1987 predecessor, the hunted are reduced in numbers one major kill at a time.  (In this case, by one very smart killer.)  But we actually cared about Dutch and company and really felt something when any one of them expired.  That’s not the case here despite the added breeds of predators.
Things pick up considerably, though, when out of nowhere Laurence Fishburne makes his presence known.  Through him, we learn that the alien predators have hunting seasons and he’s survived 10 of them.  He’s been stuck on this God forsaken planet for so long he often converses with an imaginary friend.  It’s a truly strange character but Fishburne plays him well, despite the proposterousness of him looking overfed in a place not exactly crawling with Piggly Wigglys.
After that, the film reverts back to its routine nature with little excitement to look forward to.  The intense action sequences lack inventive zip, the characters you expect to survive do so and the ending is overly optimistic for another chapter.  Although not everything is predictable (a hope for escape is thwarted, one of the hunted reveals his true colours near the end), much of it is.
It’s difficult to warm to these characters when we know so little about them and have little reason to root for them.  Take the death row inmate, as an example.  He has a tattoo of his big chested sister on his stomach.  She’s topless.  During a brief reprieve from the mayhem, he tells Topher Grace how much he’s looking forward to raping a lot of women when he gets back, an appalling moment played for laughs that aren’t forthcoming.  Whereas we genuinely liked Schwarzenegger’s ragtag group of mercenaries, this group of selected killers leave us cold.  It’s no wonder they’ve been selected for extermination.
Hopefully, this needlessly resuscitated franchise will be next.
(Special thanks to Dave Scacchi.)
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, July 19, 2010
12:46 a.m. 
Published in: on July 19, 2010 at 12:38 am  Comments (1)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. This was a great review den. I think Alice Braga played an IDF soldier though (Isreali Defence Force)… at least, that’s what WIKI says….
    I might buy this on Bluray. The movie wasn’t GREAT, but it wasn’t BAD either. Excpet for a stranded FAT Lawrence F! hahaha

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: