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Predators Review - Be Vewwy Qwiet, We'we Hunting Humans
Producer Robert Rodriguez promised to bring this franchise up from stenchorama and bring it back to basics. Did he succeed? Read on....
Producer Robert Rodriguez had the right idea concerning bringing the marauding space monster franchise back to its basics, but did it really have to be this basic? Writers Alex Litvak and Michael Finch churned out the same screenplay as the original action/sci-fi/horror/camp classic/watchamacallit, with the action taking place in a new setting and anybody reading this could come up with better dialogue. No, I'm no being a smart-aleck. You'll at least be able to predict the next line of dialogue during 80% of the film's running time. To wit:
Stans (I think...):
You live here?
(Wait for it...)
No, this is my summer home.
See? Easy. Don't worry, I didn't really spoil anything. You'll have two or three dozen more chances to play the game while you're watching the movie.
Still, Rodriguez loads this thing with a capable cast and with Nimrod Antal, he's got a director who's good with talented ensemble casts. Last year's Armored showed that Antal could wring good dramatic moments out of thin material, and he gets the same chance with Predators. There aren't any throwaway characters, here. Sure, you know which are going to be alive for the big finish, but everybody gets their moment in the sun. Russian superstar and UFC favorite Oleg Taktarov does great work as Nikolai, both with hit blow-the-bejeezus-outta-everything-in-sight moments and the moments of quieter tension. Louis Ozawa Changchien has a terrific turn as Hanzo, the Yakuza enforcer, who steals almost every scene he's in without saying a word.
Weirdly, the leads are the ones who come up short, even Adrian Brody. Sure, he got impressively bulked up for the movie, but his grunting, flexing action hero is pretty generic. Generic's a good word for Alice Braga's portrayal of Isabelle - I didn't even realize she was supposed to be Israeli until I researched this puppy on IMDB. They're capable enough to do the job that's required, but I really hope for more from the people that are carrying the movie.
Maybe Rodriguez went overboard on bringing things back to basics, but it's still a rush when everything clicks and Antal conveys the utterly creepy sense of being stalked by something's that's well out of your weight class. The Predators are suitably impressive this time around, utterly fearsome with a couple of new tricks that are kinda nifty.
I can't help wondering, though.... Previous movies have explained the Predators' hunting habits as a sort of big-game safari, making the whole deal sound like stalking and ripping the spines out of humans are the Predators' idea of a restful vacation retreat. So are their day-to-day lives vanilla and domestic? Do Predators turn into clock watchers once 4:30 rolls around, longing for the moment when they can leave their crappy accountant or mortgage broker jobs behind and go home to their sweethearts and kids? Do they look forward to their slaughterama vacation paradise for months, just itching to put that battle armor on and spend most of the day invisible again?
Well, it's vacation time with the guys again, snugglemuffin.
Oooh, you boys and your guns! Well you have fun and stay safe! MWAH!
We'll probably never know, but I'd pay to see that movie. Twice.
Anyway, Predators is mindless fun that should've aimed higher, but works as lightweight fun that gets the Fox franchise back on the right track. Rodriguez is in good position to spin sequels out of this if it's profitable, and who knows? Maybe the next one will really kick. For now, this'll do.