Directed by Nimród Antal

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

Screenplay story by Robert Rodriguez adapted by Michael Finch and Alex Litvak

When I heard that Robert Rodriguez was involved with the making of the new Predators movie, I was thrilled.  When I heard that Adrien Brody was going to be the lead, I was…less than thrilled.  The rest of the lineup looked like an action yarn for the ages.  Laurence Fishburne was going to make this one for the ages, I thought. It was one for the ages, but not for anything Fishburne did.  Of all the movies I saw in the last year, this is the one I saw twice.  Okay, I should have seen Inception twice, but with this economy…no dice.

The rising of the franchise...from the ashes.

So a gaggle of human “killers” have been dropped on a planet, loaded with ammo and no idea why they are there.  Soon enough, they come across each other, and after battling their urge to take each other out, they decide to follow Brody’s Royce.  After getting through some booby traps set up by and drop points for other combatants, they do battle with some Predator “dogs.”  As they fight them off they seemingly lose one of their number.  They find him later, but he is not doing real well.  After determining that he is a trap, they finish him and move on into the Predator camp.

The big reveal at the Predator camp

The acting here is not going to win any awards.  Brody and Fishburne don’t need them.  They are here for fun.  The main point to a movie like this is to not let the acting detract from what is already a willing suspension of disbelief.  That is harder than you think.  Look at any buddy cop movie and you’ll see the police captain is loud, angry and suspending the cops.  Anyone can do this.  Predators has a couple of psycho killers.  One of them looks like one, literally, with the orange prison suit.  The other one does not seem as such.  Both, however, use unusual dialogue that seems more human than crazy.

Braga, as the sharpshooter, seems menacingly cold and altogether human at the same time.  She obviously has spent much of her life outside and in uncomfortable situations.  This draws out her natural beauty and makes her more than an equal match for those nasty Predators.  Alice Braga has a tremendous future that should eclipse that of her mother and even her aunt.

Each of the characters have moments of humanity in the movie, which helps to make their eventual losses more significant.  Along the way they meet another survivor who has some issues of his own.  Only his demise seems a waste, as after 10 seasons of survival, he lets his guard down at a time convenient to the plot, and nothing more.

A beautiful killer, Alice Braga

The Predators here are back to their natural environment: hunting for sport.  We find a Predator from the original film set up to show that the hunting is not exclusive to off world beings.  The designs differ enough to show why one might be thought of as “superior” to the other.

My favorite scene: Yakuza goes out on his feet, taking more than a pound of flesh

As you begin the countdown of the names attached to the movie being dispatched one by one, all you can ask is that each character go down respectably.  This is, by and large, accomplished.  The Spetsnaz soldier, the Yakuza and the convict each get their licks in, and go out in a spectacular fashion.  The Doctor’s final destination is a little predictable, but entertaining nonetheless.

Another guy who holds a surprise ending.

Brody, for his part, does respectable work.  Other than his choice of the Christian Bale-era Batman vocals, he is quite believable as the mercenary Royce.  Even though they wanted to avoid the “buddy with the Predator” moment, it does happen, but it is fluid enough and does not affect the end of the movie.  He bulked up believably, but still managed to be the actor they hired him for.

Adrien Brody accepting of his apparent fate.

Predators is easily the second best Predator movie.  The first one gets the nod for its originality, but even so, it’s really close.  By going back to its roots, simplifying and thereby solidifying, this film is a giant leap forward for the franchise.

(**** out of *****)


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