While he will never be mistaken for Ah-nuld in his role as Dutch in the 1987 classic, Predator, Adrien Brody, along with an excellent supporting cast, has just opened in another wannabe summer blockbuster, Predators.
I can call it a wannabe because it just opened across America yesterday morning. We will have to wait until Monday to see the box-office reports reflecting the number of tickets sold.
While the original Predator appeared 23 years ago, and the sequel (Predator 2) came out in 1990, the story concept of humans being hunted is as old as the hills and is a tried and true genre favorite. As far back as 1932, in The Most Dangerous Game, in films, humans have been hunted under circumstances other than warfare and survival. What does that leave? Hunting for sport is the remaining category.
There’s a quote from the movie which sums it all up.
This planet is a game preserve. And we’re the game.
So that tells you what the picture will be about. What’s interesting to contemplate is whether or not the movie makers (Producer Robert Rodriguez and Dirctor Nimrod Antal) have succeeded with this film which is neither a true remake nor a true sequel.
The answer is straightforward. They’ve made an exciting and somewhat suspenseful action thriller. But there is one drawback, and it’s big. If you are aware of this film’s origin, then the major element of suspense is removed. If you have seen any of the previous Predator franchise films, then you know what the humans are up against.
Okay, since I did see the original Predator and Predator 2 then I had the foreknowledge which removed the suspense. In that regard, the original will remain unsurpassed. Instead, a viable question is did they entertain us during the time while we were waiting for the inevitable appearance of the Predators? The story-line had them heading for the high ground, that’s how. Along the way, they run into a pack of ‘dogs’ (more on them later) as they, as well as we the audience, find out where they actually are. They may have filmed those exteriors in Hawaii, but in the film, they’re not in Hawaii.
Of course, once the ‘fallen from the sky’ pack get over their initial jitters and distrust, we are not amazed to find out that not all the humans in this small group liked each other. Of course there would be a woman, and of course she would be tough as nails. Adrien Brody was cast as the lead and despite his lack of credentials as an action hero he did quite well in this role. He not only looked like a tough action hero, he sounded like one as well. He just assumed command, and whether you followed or not, he didn’t really seem to care.
Alice Braga was the female lead. Basically this was the updated version of the role of Pvt. Vasquez played by Jenette Goldstein in Aliens, but the sexual tension, if it existed at all, was kept in check.
The rest of the characters didn’t have any real depth to them. It seems they were chosen as arch-types with one requisite – a history of violence. A Yakuza gangster from Japan, a massive though typical soldier from the genocidal wars in Sierra Leone, an American criminal of the serial-killer variety, a Mexican drug cartel enforcer, and a soldier from the war zone in Chechnya. The one that didn’t figure was a doctor played by Topher Grace. And just in case you couldn’t figure that out, we were told as much, as in , “Why is he here, he doesn’t fit?”
Laurence Fishbourne shows up as survivor of some previous hunts. He’s knowledgeable and resourceful in his limited screen time.
There are some plot holes of course. Like we still don’t know how the Predators are able to ‘kidnap’ their game from Earth. Like how some of the humans arrived packing plenty of arms and munitions and some arrived without such weaponry.
To make things interesting, there are a few twists, and surprises which are effective as they happen but afterward, you might come away thinking they were a bit gimmicky.
It’s worth seeing even if you know what the Predators are about. There’s lots of action, and some of the deaths are a bit gruesome. But the special effects are marvelous. But not all of them. At least the gunfights are furious, noisy, and intense. The hand-to-hand combat scenes less so probably because they’re night scenes. But the CGI dogs were poorly done, and so poorly done that you’ll probably say, They’re kidding… right?
My call is that this one will do quite well at the box office with many forty years olds buying the tickets rather than the younger crowd. But even if the box office receipts are good, no one will say this was better than the original Predator.