***1/2 out of ****
Spill Rating: HIGH MATINEE!
When people ask me what my quintessential action/sci-fi film of the 80's is, my answer is Predator. The film has too many quotable lines to count, the cast is made up of huge action stars (The Governator, Carl Weathers) and some great actors as well (Bill Duke). While the film contains every cliche in the book, the pure fun of it easily overcame any weaknesses. And who could forget the Predator itself, one of the greatest creature creations of all time. Constructed by the legendary Stan Winston, the Predator was a truly unique figure. Just like the Alien, their designs made them stand out from the rest. If you haven't seen Predator, immediately get off your dumb ass and watch it.
The sequel, Predator 2, is generally neglected but I am one of the few that like it just as much as the original. While taking the Predator out of the jungle somewhat defeated the purpose of the concept in the first place, there was plenty of insane action and certain touches (Alien trophy in Predator ship) to make it a worthy sequel. Its easily one of the most underrated action movies of all time, at least in my opinion. I would talk about the two Alien Vs Predator movies but giving them anything more than a mere sentence gives the films too much credit. Just the existence of them is an atrocity of mankind. It seemed like those two films had put the Predator into a cinematic coffin but fortunately for us, Robert Rodriguez has brought the series back with Nimrod Antal at the helm.
While the sight of a man named Nimrod directing a Predator movie may send shivers down your spine, I am happy to report that Predators is the true return of one of the greatest creations in sci-fi history. Every problem that the AVP created is corrected here, making the Predator menacing and scary for the first time since the original.
Its rare that a film grabs me from the first frame, but Predators has quite the opening with American mercenary Royce (Adrien Brody) falling from the sky, having no idea where he is. Upon landing in a jungle, he meets other dangerous characters. Isabelle (Alice Braga), an Israeli military sniper; Stans (Walton Goggins), a convicted serial killer; Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), a Mexican drug cartel enforcer; Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), a Russian special forces commando; Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), an African death squad member; and Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien), a Yakuza enforcer. Edwin (Topher Grace), a doctor, is the only one who is out of place. They all soon realize that they're not on Earth but on an alien planet that is a game preserve that pits the predators against even bigger ones.
Along with The A-Team, Predators captures the spirit and excitement of a summer action movie. Just like Predator, a good amount of time is spent building up the characters' backstories, giving each a different personality. While there aren't as many quotable one-liners as the original, there is a impressive connection to the characters makes the danger seem all the more real. Despite Predators having the same concept and execution as Predator, the addition of the different classes of Predators and new alien creatures add enough freshness to be more than a mere re-hash.
The most surprising thing about Predators is Adrien Brody. For an actor that plays such mild-mannered characters (The Pianist, King Kong), he sure makes one hell of an action hero. He put on 20 pounds of muscle for the role and also upgraded his personality from boring to badass. At least he doesn't f*** any creatures like in Splice. Maybe he could have seduced the Predators to confuse them!?
Laurence Fishburne has a small role in the film as a man who has survived for years on the Predator game preserve. He may nail the role down as the slightly insane survivor, but his sub-plot ultimately grinds the film to a halt, seriously disrupting the flow of the film. You could have cut his character out and the film would have been better without him. He ultimately bears the same distraction as Tim Robbins in War of The Worlds.
The other members of the cast all nail their roles, even if Danny Trejo lasts for only 10 minutes. (Probably finishing Machete). Topher Grace's character is the most interesting because he is so out of place. I spent a good majority of the film trying to figure out where he fit in. There is also Justified's Walton Gobbins as a incestuous serial killer bringing some awkward comic relief to the proceedings. Finally, Alice Braga brings some heart to the gory surroundings as the Israeli sniper Isabelle.
While Predators doesn't bring many new things to the table, Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal have crafted a summer action movie that brings back one of the greatest sci-fi creations of all time at full force.