Now out on blu-ray, and your chance to win it is here, I decided it was time to cast an infra-red beam over the latest film featuring one of the best beasties in modern cinema.
Wisely ignoring the AvP franchise (that it has, apparently, become a crime to enjoy even if they’re still fun films far inferior to the individual franchises that spawned them), this movie kicks off with some people falling through the air and landing in strange surroundings. They are, initially unbeknownst to them, on a planet that is used as a game preserve. A hunting ground. And they are the game.
Directed by Nimrod Antal (a director who consistently provides entertaining fare) and starring the likes of Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Danny Trejo and Laurence Fishburne, Predators is certainly great fun and nicely continues developing details for one of the most well-loved monsters in modern movies. What it doesn’t do is raise things back to the standards of the first to movies.
Brody has spent some serious time in the gym and it shows, his hero/anti-hero is believable and physically up to the task of trying to stay alive in the dangerous environment. Alice Braga plays Isabelle and provides a nice counterbalance to Brody’s character while also not stretching believability with her survival skills. A lot of people disliked Topher Grace here – let’s just say that I didn’t (and rarely do, I think he’s a great actor and always watchable). Trejo and Fishburne are as good as ever and then we have a fantastic turn from Oleg Taktarov as Nikolai, Walton Goggins is highly entertaining as Stans, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali is fine as Mombasa and Louis Ozawa Changchien gets at least one great moment as Hanzo.
But as much as we want characters to root for and see trying to survive, this movie is all about the Predators (although the title has a nice double meaning to it) and audiences won’t be disappointed. With some of the creatures having been handed a meaner, leaner upgrade you get to see something new that still retains all the best qualities of the big baddie. Then there’s also an appearance from the “classic Predator” which will most definitely please fans.
The script from Alex Litvak and Michael Finch isn’t too bad, with some exposition worked in here and there and an unfolding mystery that lets the audience usually stay one step ahead of the protagonists but never at the cost of any entertainment value, and many of the action stages are well executed but the movie still seems to be lacking something.
Maybe I was slightly disappointed due to the fact that one big money shot from the trailer was just that – a shot that never actually appeared in the movie and so made me feel cheated (so be warned in advance). Or maybe it was because the movie has one or two silly plot holes that brought me out of the experience, albeit only just.
There’s something that stopped this film from being great for me and I’m just not sure what it was. Antal does a good enough job of directing and it’s clear that producer Robert Rodriguez wanted something that wouldn’t disappoint those who loved the first two movies. Perhaps that’s all it is. Unlike many people, I also loved Predator 2 when it was released so it may just be the case that no belated sequel can immediately be allowed alongside those two, fantastic films. This has a bloody good stab at it though.
DIRECTOR: NIMROD ANTAL
CAST: ADRIEN BRODY, TOPHER GRACE, DANNY TREJO, LAURENCE FISHBURNE, ALICE BRAGA
RUNTIME: 107 MINS APPROX