REVIEW – ‘Predators’

Review by J.T. Johnson

4-12-stars

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: July 7, 2010
DIRECTOR: Nimrod Antal
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Gyula Pados
WRITER: Alex Litvak
MUSIC: John Debney

In 1994, independent film director Robert Rodriquez wrote a treatment for a new Predator film for 20th Century Fox. At the time, they thought it would be too expensive to produce his script and it was shelved. The next time the Predators would be seen on the big screen would be in two abysmal “Alien vs. Predator” films.

Once those two films floundered at the box office, 20th Century Fox decided to separate its two film series once again. In 2009, Fox revisited the idea that Rodriquez had and asked the director to get involved. Rodriquez agreed, but he only took over production with his Troublemaker Studios and hired Nimrod Antal to direct instead of himself as was originally expected.

The script was reworked from Rodriquez’s original idea from 1994. This time, eight people are brought to a distant planet where they are involved in a deadly game for survival. Hunting them are three Predators who use the planet as a sort of preserve to hone their skills and become even deadlier.

Adrien Brody plays Royce, an ex-Military officer turned Mercenary. Unlike the protagonists from the first two films, he is more in touch with his love for violence and war. He knows that he is a monster and this has helped him to survive. However, there may be more to the man than even he gives himself credit for and ironically, this world may be just the place to reveal his lost humanity.

Brody was chosen exactly because he had more of runner’s physique rather than the more muscular Arnold Schwarzenegger from the first film. Make no doubt about it, though, Brody turns out to be quite the badass as do a lot of the other people he’s trapped with. This includes the sniper Isabelle (Alice Braga), a death row inmate named Stans (Walter Goggins), a Russian commando named Nikolai, and a badass Yakuza member named Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien).

Each character has a reason for being on the planet, some of them are nice and some of them are not so nice. They all have something to contribute and they don’t come off as just being fodder for the Predators.

The action in this film is extremely improved, involving your usual shootouts with the Predators but also unique fights. One of those highlights is when Hanzo finds an old Samurai sword and uses it to fight one of the Predators. One of the highlights in the first two Predator films is the climactic fights between the main human and the main Predator.

This film is no different in this department. Eventually, Royce has to go head-to-head with the Big Bad Predator. It’s a fight that is similar to the one fought in the first movie, but uses Royce’s quicker speed instead of just the muscle that Schwarzenegger provided.

Finally, I’m glad that this film is not a reboot. It does belong in the canon of the first two films. It also ends up being my favorite film in the series. “Predators” took everything about the first film and built one hell of a ride. It also made what is arguably the best film in the entire series.

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