January 10, 2011

Rabid Rewind: Predators

starring Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, & Laurence Fishburne
directed by Nimrod Antal
screenplay by Alex Litvak & Michael Finch
20th Century Fox (2010)

Despite Hollywood's best efforts, I don't think the iconic alien warrior known as Predator has any marquee value left. The lumbering, armed-to-the-gills E.T. on steroids is a child of the 80s--and he hasn't aged well.

When I heard there was going to be another Predator film, I didn't exactly jump for joy. Predator 2 was terrible, and Alien Vs. Predator didn't exactly win me over either--I didn't even bother watching the second AvP movie. But when it was announced that Robert Rodriguez was involved in the production of the movie, my optimism grew.

The premise is simple, even if it is a tad preposterous. Take a bunch of the most vicious killers from various walks of life, abduct them, and drop them off on an alien world where they're to be hunted by an alien race that lives to hunt all manner of deadly creatures. I try not to over-think that plot, though. I mean, this technologically advanced species with an insatiable need to hunt prey seemed to stack the deck in its favor to a degree that makes them seem less like noble warriors than rednecks hunting whitetail deer with AK-47s and grenade launchers.

On the human side of the fray, there's Adrien Brody in the lead. I'm still trying to figure out why they chose him. Sure, he's a polar opposite from Arnold Schwartzenegger, but simply did not buy him as a bad-ass--and his gravelly, Apocalypse Now voice was treading in lampoon territory. Alice Braga, who seems to play a hard-as-nails chick every time I see her in a movie, does pretty good in the ensemble cast, but--and this may be sexist on my part--I didn't think she was a top candidate out of the seven billion humans that are supposed to be the most notorious killers on Earth. Danny Trejo, on the other hand, was a welcome addition to the cast. It's just a shame his role wasn't as substantial as Brody's. As for Laurence Fishburne, his role as a long-suffering survivor on the alien planet, and suffering from a few loose screws to boot, was an interesting respite from the shoot-outs and intense action, but it was practically a cameo and felt like he only spent a weekend on set.

The action is good, even if it is all familiar territory in the Predator franchise. There was hardly anything by way of surprises, and what surprises exist are not what I would describe as memorable or cohesive to the script. It's just ninety minutes of a bunch of filmmakers playing in a 1980s sandbox, and really doing nothing to build upon or strengthen what could have been a great reboot to a beleaguered film series. I wouldn't discourage anyone from watching this, but I sure wouldn't tell them to hurry.

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