Sunday, June 23, 2013
**This review contains spoilers**
Abducted and dropped onto the Predator’s alien planet, soldiers, a mercenary, enforcers, a death row inmate, and a doctor are forced to fight for their lives. Taking on the role of a leader, Royce (Adrien Brody) commands the group of Isabelle (Alice Braga), Stans (Walton Goggins), Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien), Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), and Edwin (Topher Grace).
After an attack from alien dogs, Royce figures out the puzzle of the kidnapping: everyone brought to the alien planet is live bait for the Predators to hunt and kill in a deadly game. The survivors eventually learn more about the blood feud between the bigger Predators and smaller Predators from a survivor of “ten seasons” named Noland (Laurence Fishburne). Royce tries to figure out a way to escape after Noland mentions a ship, but Royce is forced to use his grenade launcher to signal the Predators for help, when Noland reveals himself as a scavenger.
Adrien Brody is a competent leading man, while Topher Grace and Walton Goggins provide some great comic relief. Rest of the cast ranges from so-so to decent, but nobody is noticeably bad here. Laurence Fishburne’s appearance is limited to cameo status, but Fishburne is hilarious, as the paranoid and insane recluse, who talks to an imaginary friend.
Some people might think of Predators as a stand-alone film in the franchise, but it’s actually a sequel. Remember when Royce pushes Isabelle to tell the truth about the Predator tied up at the campsite? Isabelle recalls Dutch’s (Arnold) report of what he saw during his first and only encounter with a Predator.
Mentioning the 1987 original confirms Predators’ status as a sequel, and it’s a cool “remember that!” moment for fans of the franchise. They also reintroduce the gruesome “ripping the spine and skull from the back, and raising it in the air like a trophy” kill with Stans’ death. Plus, using themes and music from the original Predator is a great nostalgia touch.
Nimord Antal (the director) and the writers, Alex Livtak and Michael Finch do a good job of introducing their new vision for the Predator franchise, while paying homage to the 1987 original (I’d like to forget Predator 2 ever happened, and I’m glad they ignored it here). The final duel between Royce and the big Predator is reminiscent of Dutch’s battle with the Predator, with Royce covering himself in mud to block the Predator’s heat sensors. And Hanzo’s one on one blade to blade duel with the Predator in the open field reminds me of Billy’s stand against the Predator in the ‘87 film. Billy was tired of running, and just said to hell with it, come and get me. Hanzo pretty much did the same thing after everyone else ran from Noland’s hideout. Hanzo stopped, took off his shirt, turned around, and drew his sword for the battle.
Predators is a breath of fresh air, that pays homage to the original, and gives Predator fans some hope for the future. A lot of bloody and gory action sequences with a hard hitting and nasty final battle between Royce and the large Predator. And I LOVE the twist with Topher Grace turning on Isabelle at the end, and revealing himself as a cold-blooded murderer. Truly a shock, and the twist made Grace’s character look like a real weasel after he played the innocent wimp, and Isabelle risked her life to save his.