After the seriously disappointing “Aliens vs. Predator” series, it didn’t seem like there was much purpose revisiting either franchise, but the Robert Rodriguez-produced “Predators is a fun homage to the 1987 original that’s every bit as explosive and exhilarating.
A collection of diverse warriors are parachuted to an island with no memory of how they found themselves free-falling.
The mercenary (Adrien Brody) reluctantly finds himself leading this crew comprised of an Israeli soldier (Alice Braga), a Russian soldier (Oleg Taktarov), a death row inmate (a bizarrely entertaining Walton Goggins, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”), a Sierra Leona militia fighter (Mahershala Ali, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons”), a Mexican drug lord (Danny Trejo, “Machete”), a Yakuza member (Louis Ozawa Changchien) and a doctor (Topher Grace, “Spider-Man 3”).
Not long after they get their bearings and come up with a plan for leaving the island (sound familiar?); the group finds themselves hunted by a group of Predators looking to add to their collection.
Director Nimród Antal, who previously handled the horror/thriller “Vacancy,” takes a similar approach and follows the structure of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film with the Predators taking out the soldiers one by one.
First-time screenwriters Alex Litvak and Michael Finch make a slight misstep in their setup as they make the characters a little too interesting and not the standard action movie fodder archetypes that you don’t care once they start getting killed. Instead, the film is written as a “What If” episode of “Lost” where Jack and company learn that aliens are on the island in addition to polar bears.
The biggest revelation is that Brody can play a credible “badd-a$$.”
With his slim physique and gaunt face, Brody doesn’t have that obvious leading man in an action movie look, but he earnestly proves up to the challenge. You don’t get the sense that he’s “pretending to be a tough guy” and he instantly makes you accept him as a hard-edge mercenary.
And while he was heavily featured in the film’s trailers, Laurence Fishburne has a fun, but altogether too brief cameo as Noland, a long-time survivor, of the Predator conflict. Sharp-eyed viewers will notice a few shot-outs to the Predators’ alien sparring partners throughout the film.
The film’s setting looks great aided from principal shooting done in Hawaii and while some of the special effects are a little soft and lacking detail — underscoring the film’s $40 million budget — Antal seemed to wisely spend much of his resources staging the action scenes, which are well choreographed and clearly shot. Antal doesn’t get too fancy over-editing and clipping the battles and the refreshingly simplistic approach.
“Predators” doesn’t aim for anything more than being a fun science-fiction and it definitely hits the target.
Rating: 7 out of 10