Oscar-winner Adrien Brody and film legend Laurence Fishburne star in the new sci-fi action adventure Predators, a sequel to the 1987 original that spawned two governors. Memo to election judges this November: add the write-ins for Morpheus to the Fishburne tally.
Eight humans, each killers hardened in their own way – military types, underworld enforcers, a death row inmate -- have mysteriously parachuted to a strange jungle. It’s not immediately obvious, but these human “predators” have themselves become prey on an alien game preserve planet. Together they must first overcome their distrust for each other then, using their own heinous acumen, battle this new more advanced breed of predators who’ve honed their skills after centuries of hunting humans.
Director Robert Rodriguez, who gave us coarse classics like El Mariachi and From Dusk Till Dawn as well as the Spy Kids trilogy, does a respectable job with the “Predator” franchise that suffered a few setbacks with the disappointing (to fans, anyway) AVP films.
While not technically a remake, the crux of the film is similar and precisely what Ernest Hemingway penned almost a century ago, “there is no hunting like the hunting of man.” Since then, of course, many screenwriters have said the same thing. Films like The Naked Prey, The Most Dangerous Game, and this one can be counted-on for adrenaline-filled action that is contagious and riveting.
Brody, star of the 2002 drama The Pianist, is an unlikely action hero, but so was Liam Neeson in Taken.” Both surprised me. Rodriguez admitted he wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger and failing that wanted to cast a kinder, gentler, and much more complicated leader. Brody is that, however, the supporting cast is less remarkable with the exception of veteran Laurence Fishburne who always delights. TV’s Topher Grace (‘That '70s Show’), who has lucked-out with minor roles in major films like Traffic and Ocean's Eleven, here leaves us wondering for much too long, why, as a physician, he’s among the no-accounts.
Though cinematography is something often overlooked in the genre, Predators capitalizes on shots filmed in a Hawaiian rainforest with panoramic shots that are at times actually stunning. But let’s be honest, that’s not the draw. This one’s all about the action, and there’s plenty of it and it’s engaging almost immediately. Yes, there’s some gore -- someone is separated from their spine and in the final battle royal there’s green blood everywhere (they’re, y’know, aliens) – still, far less than I expected.
Predators is not for everyone, but sci-fi and action film fans won’t be let down.
2 1/2 Honks
MPAA Rating: R for strong creature violence and gore, and pervasive language.