Directed By: Nimród Antal
Written By: Alex Litvak, Michael Finch
Produced By: Elizabeth Avellan, John Davis, Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Laurence Fishburne
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 106 minutes
Release Date: July 9, 2010
Review Date: July 9, 2010
There is a new Predator in Predators. It has slightly longer fangs, is a bit taller, and has darker skin tone than the type that hunted the commandos in the 1987 original, killed drug dealers in the sequel, and kind of fought other aliens in a spin-off franchise. For those afraid of lazy design, the reveal of the new Predator’s face as it battles its smaller, genetic cousin is absolutely terrifying.
There’s little new about Predators from the first movie, except that the band of prey has a more diverse collection of careers, there are three of the creatures hunting them, and it takes place on some planet or moon that’s not Earth. It still features a group mainly made up of military personnel running and hiding for their lives from an alien force in a jungle.
In spite of long stretches of time in which the character roam and wander, discussing the aliens’ tactics (which they are experts at determining immediately), tossing out their theories of survival, and occasionally saying something about people or places back home, they are defined primarily by their weapons. One (Oleg Taktarov) holds a minigun. Another (Danny Trejo) handles a pair of Uzis. The lady (Alice Braga) has a sniper rifle, and the prisoner (Walton Goggins) carries a shiv. The Japanese guy (Louis Ozawa Changchien) puts down his custom pistol for a samurai sword for nighttime duel with one of the aliens, who has decided to play fair just this once, evidently for style’s sake. The out-of-place doctor (Topher Grace) is armed with smarm.
Our mysterious, gravel-voiced hero without a name until the last moments of the movie (Adrien Brody) owns an assault rifle with a grenade mount. Screenwriters Alex Litvak and Michael Finch don’t bother him with a name or any consistent characterization, but they do give him a gun. The same goes for the rest of the characters, whose names are instantly forgotten and who can disappear for long stretches of time without us or the characters on screen realizing they’re missing. This typically leads to a moment of, “Hey, there’s only [one number less the number we had when we started this scene] of us,” or, “Do you know what happened to that guy,” followed by the inevitable scene in which they find out the Predators got to that guy.
The story opens with our mysterious, gravel-voiced hero without a name falling from the sky. When he and the rest of his fellow, chosen quarry land, the hero immediately says that it doesn’t matter how they got to this place or why they are there. The only thing that matters is getting out of there. It’s an admirable quality in situations like this, in which characters exist only to die and the plot only serves to put them in situations where one of them will, to do away with the extraneous stuff. It’s a quality the movie boasts but doesn’t possess.
Instead, they stroll through this alien jungle, asking why they’re there. They realize they’re on another world and ask how they got there. They run into the cloaked, clicking creatures hunting them and begin to wonder who they are and what they are doing. They walk around some more, sometimes encountering traps and running to make up the distance. They speak the bland words of survivalist philosophers. Our mysterious, gravel-voiced hero quotes Hemingway. The woman opines, Are we not the monsters of our planet?
So it continues with a few flashes of chases and random gore (Here was once something that could create blood and guts). They are hunted by ravenous boar-like creatures that are actually the Predators’ dog-like creatures, flushing the humans out. The group unloads all their guns upon them and proves to be terrible shots all around, except when it counts, of course (and even then, apparently). The mysterious hero says something about conserving ammunition, and no one listens to the advice for the rest of the movie.
The woman knows about these monsters, because she serves in the Exposition and Backstory branch of the military. She knows about when one of these Predators hunted the commandos from the first movie and gives out key information for the hero to use in the climax. The climactic fight, in which two Predators continue a neon-green blood feud and the few, surviving humans fight each other and the beasts, makes no sense. The new and barely improved Predator, although a master hunter, forgets where it left its captives, characters appear in places where they weren’t moments before, and a paralyzed character regains movement at just the right moment.
A derivative, nonsensical sequel, Predators is a bore.
Mark Dujsik is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society. For more of his reviews, visit his website.