PaulRom Reviews: PREDATORS
Finally got around to seeing this film, a Robert Rodriguez-produced revival of the classic action/sci-fi franchise. Does it succeed or fail in bringing the Predators back? Hit the jump for my take.
I've been meaning to check this film out for a while, but I was finally able to do so earlier today. I haven't seen the original Predator films, but I was looking forward to checking out a modern film featuring the characters. As usual, there will be some spoilers in the following review, so if you haven't seen the film yet then skip to the final paragraphs.
1 hr. 47 min.
A group of hardened killers are hunted on an alien in producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimród Antal's entry into the popular sci-fi action franchise. Mercenaries, murderers, gangsters, and convicts, they were the most feared men on Earth. But now they're a long way from home, and when the predators become the prey, fearless mercenary Royce (Adrien Brody) prepares for the fight of his life. And he's not alone, because Mexican gangster Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), Israeli Defense Forces veteran Isabelle (Alice Braga), notorious mass murderer Stans (Walton Goggins), Russian Special Forces operative Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), RUF death squad member Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), and sword-wielding Yakuza Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien) are all armed to the teeth, and out for blood. The odd man out is Edwin (Topher Grace), a once-prominent physician whose career came to an end following a big scandal. When the motley crew encounters Noland (Laurence Fishburne), a resourceful human who has somehow managed to survive on the alien's hunting grounds for some time, they prepare to take the ultimate stand against the most powerful Predators yet.
The Predator films are one of those film series that I've been interested in catching up on. Having not seen the first two installments, I've only seen the Predators in the first Alien Vs. Predator film. While that was decent enough, I was wanting to see the Predators in their own solo film. When I learned of a new Predators film that would focus on a new team of mercenaries/murderers that would be produced by Sin City's Robert Rodriguez, I was immediately wanting to check it out. I was finally able to do so today, and I can safely say that I'm pleased with what I've seen.
The plot idea of having a new set of character taking on the Predators this time around sounded very promising, and it works very well here. Like I said, I haven't seen the first two films so I can't really compare them to the 2010 flick, but the latter doesn't distance itself entirely from its predecessors. It includes a reference or two to the original film (released in '87 and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger), but at the same time seems like a fresh start. The group of characters is also interesting, ranging from murderers and convicts to gangsters and mercenaries.
The casting choices are mostly spot-on. Adrien Brody makes an excellent leading man, providing the tough and commanding persona needed. Topher Grace is mostly forgettable here. This is actually the second film I've seen him in, the first being 2007's Spider-Man 3 (in which he screws up - er, plays - Eddie Brock/Venom). Based on what I've seen, Grace isn't really a good actor, even with the amount he's been given here in Predators. Alice Barga is good as lead woman Isabelle, while Walton Goggins is decent as Stans. Laurence Fishburne is great in his rather small role, while the rest of the cast is pretty good.
While on a low budget ($40 mil), Predators doesn't feel that cheaply produced at all. The tone is captured perfectly, and rarely does it resort to unnecessary humor. The creatures/monsters that show up before the Predators are really cool, and the show down between them and the mercenaries is really cool (it reminds me of the dinosaur scenes in Peter Jackson's King Kong, which isn't a bad thing).
As for flaws, this film definitely has a few. As mentioned, Laurence Fishburne had a very small role in the movie, unfortunately being killed off by a Predator (the death especially feels unnecessary since Fishburne was one of the best casting choices in the film, and he seemed to be played up to be an important character). Also, there's only four Predators in the entire film, and personally I'd prefer a little more than just four. While most of the scenes felt helped the story through, one scene in particular had Walter Goggins' character start demanding a gun (he didn't have one, while all the other members of the team did), even going as far as to threaten one of his teammates to get it. The whole scene felt extremely unnecessary, and could've been edited out easily.
Other than the aforementioned flaws, Predators is a strong relaunch of one of the more well known action film franchises. Hopefully we'll see a sequel made soon, as the ending is quite a cliffhanger. But in the meantime, fans of the Predators who don't want to see them colliding with Aliens finally have a new film to enjoy, and a good one at that.
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