The storyline for Predators is simple enough, as it should be, and we are introduced to a group of mercenaries and criminals who were all abducted and dropped onto an alien game preserve (read: alien planet) to be hunted. This really isn’t a far stretch from the premise of AvP but don’t think it’s a rip because this installment is based on a script Robert Rodriguez submitted to Fox in the mid 90’s. Director Nimrod Antal rightfully chose to take his cues from the original movie while leaning toward the tone of classic horror and keeping the monster in the shadows while building tension levels high. This couldn’t have been an easy task because he didn’t have the advantage the original filmmakers had since today’s audience already knew exactly what lurked behind that invisible cloak and infra-red vision.
The movie opens in the thick of it as we find Royce (Adrian Brody) waking to find he has been dropped from a plane and is falling to the ground at break neck speed. Once on the ground each of the characters is introduced as the stage is set for each of them to be picked off one by one. “Machete” himself even makes a quick, memorable appearance in the film but the character who will undoubtably stand out in everyone’s mind will be the death row inmate (Walter Goggins) whose comic relief is a far cry from the cheesy one-liners of 80’s action films.
I’m not going to give a laundry list of characters here but suffice it to say that as with any movie every character here serves their purpose. Though sometimes that purpose is just a little too obvious and at times I did grow a little weary of what seemed like unnecessary exposition in the film. The characters were trying to get to know each other and get their bearings but some of it felt a little too forced and staged for comfort. Alicia Braga’s character provided a great piece of closure for the original Predator film through monologue but also had me question the point of Laurence Fishburne’s character later on. Both characters were seemingly placed to simply “fill the group in” and two times was frankly too many. Since we’re on the subject of character’s, Topher Grace’s character had a “big reveal” that just wasn’t all that intriguing. But in the end it served a purpose and left his demise all the more palatable.
There are several nods to the original film throughout Predators that really flowed smoothly and overall made it much more enjoyable. Even seeing Adrian Brody covered in mud felt more like the character had learned from the past and not that the filmmakers clumsily borrowed too much from the original. It’s not a carbon copy of Predator and that in itself was very refreshing. Even the Predators were given a few tweaks which is sure to upset a few people out there. I liked the fresh look of this different race of Predators and the filmmakers did this without dismissing the original, well loved design. Instead they built on it and had the two duke it out.
Predators has no shortage of action packed sequences, kills, and show downs to please everyone but for me the film was made early on when they fell over the waterfall. The camera work was superb and pulled us in so much it was hard not to feel as if you were a part of the film. The “predator dogs” were also a nice touch and it was great to finally see some CGI with a little weight to it; after being hounded by the lightweight floating wolves of the Twilight series for the last year.
I usually hate it when people say this but I really think this movie “had to be made”. For nothing else at least to give true fans what Danny Glover and AvP just couldn’t pull off. They were finally able to dip back into the world of the original film and give fans a sequel worthy of the original. More than likely this was because they were given the opportunity to bring this film to life and were able to do it their own way. At SXSW Rodriguez said the studio approached him and said, we don’t know how you do what you do but we know what you do so please do it…make a Troublemaker Studios movie and not a Fox movie.
And so he did.