Predators – Movie Review
As a rule, only awesome works of art contain the word “Predator” in their title. From Ice Cube’s third best album The Predator to NBC Dateline’s best spin off “To Catch a Predator,” there’s a standard of quality that goes along with the cosmic name-brand recognition. Of course, the pinnacle of the “things named Predator”-genre has to be the 1987 film Predator. Starring Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor Jesse Ventura and Arch-Bishop Carl Weathers as a three-headed hydra of 80s action, it also unleashed Jim and John Thomas’ “Predator” creatures. Resembling no extra-terrestrial before or since, the predators combined the fear of a dark ages’ xenophobia with the dangers of modern technology and the cold blooded motive of hunting “for sport.” The predator resurfaced in Predator 2, a dystopian urban gang war movie that the intergalactic gamesman just happened to show up in. I’m a bigger Predator 2 apologist than most as the idea of post-Apocalyptic Danny Glover reluctantly teaming with an extra-tasty-Busey Gary Busey to stop a predator in the middle of one of my hood movies is my idea of quality cinema. Then came AVP and AVP:R two movies that didn’t have the word Predator in the title and subsequently sucked. It was time for the franchise to make penance with producer Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Spy Kids) hiring director Nimrod Antal (Vacancy) to give the predators a proper predicate. The result is Predators.
The movie follows eight humans who find themselves transported to a lush jungle that none of them can identify. Each from different walks of life all over the world, everything from an IDF black ops sniper to a Yakuza enforcer, they’re not sure what they’re doing there but decide to stick together to find out. They soon discover that they’re on a “synthetic” planet made solely for the purpose of hunting game: them. After a few run-ins they meet a, comparatively speaking, longterm survivor on the planet (Laurence Fishburne) who tells them of the hunt and how not only are there “predators” on the planet, but an additional race of “super-predators” who are deeply engaged in a blood feud. Predators hunt, people fight back, parallels are drawn about how our protagonists are the “predators” of our world and the film just kind of lingers until the reels fall off.
If I may get No Holds Bard for a moment, “what’s in a name?” Well, in this case, that’s the most disappointing aspect of the film. Yes, in a movie called Predators with a 107 minute running time, we are given a grand total of THREE (3) predators. Granted, three would make it plural, but when a movie called Predators doesn’t even have as many predators as Aliens vs. Predator, that’s a little misleading. What’s even more misleading is at 1:25 of the film’s trailer, a character is shown being lit with several of the trademark predator lazer targets. The scene in the film itself has Royce (Adrien Brody) lit with only ONE, which Rodriguez has admitted “was done for marketing purposes.” Thank you, Robert Rodriguez for turning the predator planet into a house of lies.
The film begins with a good premise and a very promising half-hour. The highlight for me was composer John Debney channeling Alan Silvestri’s original 1987 score, recreating the jungle paranoia while giving this new foreboding a life all its own. It’s a shame that the film then chooses to rest on these laurels and go on a trudging autopilot until the credits. Brody’s performance, where he simultaneously channels Christian Bale’s Batman and Christian Bale’s John Connor, is awful and a far fall cry his work earlier this summer with his absolutely masterful performance in Brodyquest. Also awful is the face reveal of the “super-predator” who looks just like a condensed Men in Black cockroach. And when I say “autopilot until the credits,” I mean it as the film abruptly ends Killa Season-style without finishing its own story. Perhaps this is what we can now expect from movies in the post-recession franchise era, but this wide-open ending just makes me want to watch any further predating even less. Otherwise, the cast is stronger than expected and while there isn’t much else bad about the film, there’s a total absence of anything else notably good. It’s the kid in class you only remember for bragging about getting a C+. For future reference, if you’re ever faced with something advertised as containing “Predators,” adequately prepare yourself for the ‘s’ standing for ‘subpar.’
We give Predators a Two Out of Five
So until next time…let’s agree to agree!