'Predators' Review: The Jungle Limbo
20 years after Predator 2, and with a pair of forgettable detours in the form of the Alien Vs. Predator franchise, Robert Rodriguez and 20th Century Fox decided to revive the original canon and make a new movie about the famous extraterrestrial hunter.
The first thing that Rodriguez did was to mainly ignore Predator 2, without discounting its existence, and thematically try to achieve with Predators what James Cameron's Aliens did for Ridley Scott's Alien: A direct sequel to the original, in plural.
From the original, Predators retakes the hostile tropical jungle setting and the idea of an ensemble cast of varied and borderline-cartoonish badass characters.
The first thing we see is the ex-U.S.-Army-turned-mercenary Royce (Adrien Brody) freefalling to the jungle, before activating a high-tech parachute. After landing, he meets others who arrived in the same manner. Mexican drug cartel Los Zeta soldier Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), Russian Spetsnaz soldier Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), Israel Defense Forces sniper Isabelle (Alice Braga), Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front officer Mombasa (Mahershala Ali), San Quentin death row inmate Stans (Walton Goggins), Yakuza enforcer Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien) and young doctor Edwin (Topher Grace).
Plot and Execution
Predators quickly introduces multiple characters with an enviable smoothness. The premise is on the table and is incredibly engaging. While trying to understand their situation, our gang, all professional murderers, except Dr. Edwin, theorize about them being in hell.
After all, the last thing they remember was a violent action. But thanks to the explanation of a human survivor named Noland (Laurence Fishburne) they understand their reality: All of them, a group of predators themselves, have been selected/abducted to be the prey of a three-squad extraterrestrial hunting party. A gory alien sport with the purpose of testing/discovering new arsenals and tactics.
But Predators, not entirely satisfied with that flashy premise, takes some extra risky sci-fi steps: The human "warriors" are not only accompanied by hostages from other planets, but the jungle/playground isn't located on earth but on an unknown planet. Suddenly, the "hell theory" doesn't sound so crazy after all.
What's Your Rating For Predators?
To Like and Dislike
Predators is its own thing. It's a self-contained story where callbacks to the Schwarzenegger's original film are minimal. Adrien Brody is a different kind of hero, more fit than muscular, with a dark and mysterious personality perfectly delivered by the great actor.
Predators takes the time to deliver small tributes to their colorful supporting characters to the point of designing choreographies and battles adapted to each different style. The result, never perceived as a genre pastiche, is an entertaining adventure full of unique moments like Hanzo's samurai duel, Stans’ shiv attack or Nikolai's explosive artillery.
Predators’ biggest flaw is how unsatisfactorily futile everything turns out in the end. Probably betting on a short-term direct sequel that never came, the ending shows us the survivors right where they started, without even an interesting change in their personality. A new cycle ends, another begins, and instead of a hopeful end or an absolute death, there is only agony and a false sense of hope without a backup plan. A Limbo. If you are looking for more alien vs human action, check out our alien contact movies list.
Release Year: 2010
Director(s): Nimrod Antal
Actors: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Walton Goggins a.o.