Let me preface this review by saying that this is not a review of a movie version of that dateline show about catching child molesters. Now that that’s out of the way… Last night I went to go see Predators. I went with fairly low expectations. After all, we all know the AVP movies were a pretty bad bastardization of two beloved sci-fi franchises, so Predators wasn’t exactly going to be a masterpiece now was it? That’s a totally rhetorical question, but I’m gonna answer it anyway: Predators is not a masterpiece. But it’s not horrible either.
Predators is a semi-sequel to the Ah-nold classic, Predator. Now, I realize that there was a sequel to the original Predator (aptly titled Predator 2 and starring Danny Glover) but it honestly wasn’t very good. In fact, the only cool part of Predator 2 was the ending on the predator space ship which showed the skull of an Alien (the franchise movie monster not the… noun). That spawned years and years of fan-fiction as well as several video games and comic books. But, ultimately, as far as the casual movie-goer is concerned, all it did was lead to those AVP movies. Which sucked.
So, for all intents and purposes, Predator 2 didn’t exist. Predators tells the story of eight people who find themselves in the middle of a jungle on an alien planet. Theres a mercenary (Adrien Brody who actually fits into the action hero role surprising well, even taking on the Bale-perfected low whispering growl voice), an army sniper (or something… I don’t know… the only woman), a Russian soldier, a yakuza enforcer, a drug cartel enforcer (Danny Trejo), an African RUF (I think) soldier, a death row inmate, and a doctor who doesn’t seem to belong amongst the squad of killers (Topher Grace who actually manages to be almost likable despite his “twist” being blatantly apparent from the outset).
All these people are placed on this alien planet where they somewhat-arbitrarily come to the conclusion that they are being hunted by aliens because they’re the most dangerous killers on their own planet. As it turns out they’re correct and the fun times ensue. This time around there are three predators instead of one and they’re a hyper breed of super predators who are so bad ass they hunt regular predators (as well as people) for fun. So the eight killers try and survive against the three predators. That’s really all the plot you need, which is good because that’s basically all the plot that’s given to you.
The issue I have is that Predators could’ve gone from being a good movie to being a classic sci-fi sequel if there was more in terms of characterization. This is usually only possible with less characters. Case in point, the original Alien. It featured one Alien and that became a real threat. Something worth being utterly terrified of. It was a character. Then came Aliens which introduced hundreds more xenomorphs (as they are known amongst nerds) who essentially became cannon-fodder for the human characters. Similarly, in the original Predator, there was one antagonist. He was bad ass. He was unstoppable. Until the only bigger bad ass in existence, Ah-nold, came along and kicked its ass. See, there were only two main characters to care about and so the audience does just that: they care.
Predators has too many characters (nine humans if you count Lawrence Fishburne’s seemingly random and completely underutilized addition to the cast) and not enough time to explore them in. That being said, Predators is a great popcorn guzzling action flick that isn’t overly stupid despite being fairly simplistic. It’s a damn good sequel to the first Predator though it most definitely does not surpass the classic. It’s got decent dialogue, cool characters, solid acting (though admittedly the actors don’t have all that much to do) and a scene in which a japanese guy with a katana has a sword fight against a predator in a wind-swept field (it’s just as weirdly cool as it sounds). What more could you ask for?
Predators gets a B.
And, for those of you who might be wondering, The Last Airbender (which was semi-reviewed in an earlier post) gets an F.