Apr 10, 2015

Review: Predators (2010)

Predators was a long time coming before its eventual release in 2010. Robert Rodriguez had penned a treatment back in 1994 while he was busy with Desperado, but got rejected by Fox as the budget that would've been required was too high. Not sure if the numbers were the same back then, but Predators was made on a $40 million, the same amount that was used for Aliens vs Predator: Requiem. One could only hope that the bad lighting that plagued that Strause brothers' production wouldn't rear its head up again.

Robert Rodriguez being involved as producer and writer of the original treatment is intriguing to say the least. More intriguing to me however is Hungarian Nimród Antal (a bit of an unfortunate name in North America due to Looney Tunes) being brought in as director. His directorial debut Kontroll was a cool little thriller which got him some legitimate national recognition. His first two North American movies weren't the best (looking at you Armoured), but I was hoping that Antal could recapture some of Kontroll's cool and dark atmosphere for Predators.

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At a Glance


Genre: action, adventure, sci-fi
Directed by: Nimród Antal
Produced by: Elizabeth Avellan, John Davis, Robert Rodriguez, etc.
Written by: Alex Litvak, Michael Finch
Music by: John Debney
Running time: 107 minutes
Production company: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Troublemaker Studios, Davis Entertainment, etc.
Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 20th Century Fox, Hispano Foxfilms S.A.E., etc.
Country: United States
Language: English, Spanish, Russian
Budget: $40,000,000
Box office: $127,233,108 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Danny Trejo, Laurence Fishburne, Carey Jones, Brian Steele

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Synopsis


Royce (Adrien Brody) wakes up as he's falling from the sky. Desperately trying to open his parachute, it automatically opens for him just in the nick of time. Once on the ground, he's joined by several others who are mostly involved in some sort of conflict around the world such as Isabelle of the Israel Defense Forces and Cuchillo (Danny Trejo) who's a member of a Mexican drug cartel. No one knows where they are or have any memory of how they came to be there. Despite being on shaky ground, they form an uneasy alliance as they search for answers.

Review


Predators brings the franchise back to its jungle and military roots. The collection of characters may all come from different backgrounds such as the previously mentioned Israel Defense Force, the Spetsnaz Alpha Group and the Sierra Leone Revolutionary United Front, but the reference to Predator in that regard is definitely there. Predators seem to take an interest in combat and violence as a whole since Stans (Walton Goggins) is a death row inmate and Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien) is part of the Yakuza. Point is, there is a connection between all the gathered characters. Except of course for the puzzling inclusion of Edwin (Topher Grace) who claims to be a doctor. 

Predators begins with a lot of questions and it slowly reveals everything at its own pace. This was my second time seeing the film and I have to admit that knowing everything in advance did affect the ensuing tension of what those answers would be. I remembered the twists and I remembered all the surprises which doesn't make Predators the most re-watchable movie unfortunately. I also have to say that shaky cam ruined a couple of action scenes, but only really in the early-going which was a relief.

How are the action scenes as a whole? They're not perfect, but there are a few good moments sprinkled here and there. Predators mostly skims the surface of competent without any real "wow" scenes though. Probably the best action scene of all is Yakuza enforcer Hanzo vs. a Predator who he fights one on one with a katana. The climactic action scene however is a little disappointing as the editing makes it look pretty dumb. (Spoilers) The fast cuts as Royce delivers a series of blows to Berserker Predator (Brian Steele) just don't work at all for me. (End Spoilers)

Although I've seen many people question Adrien Brody as the action lead of Predators, I think he sells the role adequately. OK, it's true that he overdoes it with the Batman voice a bit, but he looks and acts the part of a cynical mercenary as he skirts the line between hero and anti-hero quite nicely. Going with Brody was a better idea than trying to emulate the Schwarzenegger style anyway which would've required a Dwayne Johnson or a Vin Diesel. Predators does its own thing and I like that.

The rest of the characters are a little bit cliché, but they could certainly be worst too. The characters in Predator were also pretty cliché, but they also happened to be the most badass collection of characters brought into one movie. Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov) and Cuchillo (Danny Trejo) aren't quite Mac, Blaine or Billy, but again, no one could ever be. Topher Grace is a little hard to take seriously though and (Spoilers) does anyone want to tell me how Noland (Laurence Fishburne) is as chunky as he is despite being stuck on the planet for at least two years? (End Spoilers)

Where Predators definitely some praise though is for how it managed its budget. $40 million isn't a whole lot for an action/sci-fi movie and despite that, it looks quite good. There are a couple of CGI hiccups from time to time, but the Predators look especially good which is crucial. Contrast this with Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem which tried to hide everything in constant darkness and Predators is a visual masterpiece.

Nimród Antal keeps the head of Predators above water. Clearly trying to emulate some of the things that made Predator such a classic, it also tries to do its own thing. While the surprises aren't nearly as effective as they were the first time I watched it the film, Predators isn't the disaster it certainly could've been and it removes some of the bad taste left behind by AVP and AVPR. A sequel seems to be in the making and you can count me in as being interested in seeing what happens next.

Rating


6/10

Related Reviews:


Predator (1987)
Predator 2 (1990)

AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) 
AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem (2007)