Director: Nimrod Antal
Cast: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga,
Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo, Oleg Taktarov,
Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Louiz Ozawa
RunTime: 1 hr 47 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: NC16 (Violence & Some Coarse
Opening Day: 8 July 2010
bold new chapter in the Predator universe, "Predators"
was shot on location under Rodriguez's creative auspices at
the filmmaker's Austin-based Troublemaker Studios, and is
directed by Nimród Antal. The film stars Adrien Brody
as Royce, a mercenary who reluctantly leads a group of elite
warriors who come to realize they've been brought together
on an alien planet... as prey. With the exception of a disgraced
physician, they are all cold-blooded killers – mercenaries,
Yakuza, convicts, death squad members – human "predators"
that are now being systemically hunted and eliminated by a
new breed of alien Predators.
is important to note that despite it’s perspicuous title,
Nimrod Antal’s "Predators" is no reboot of
its establishing material. It’s a honest-to-goodness
sequel to the first two Predators films; a long awaited one
at that after a couple of detours into the realm of crossovers
into the "Alien" universe. It does however represent
a stylistic update and intriguing expansion of the franchise’s
filmic mythology that also spans Dark Horse Comics’
graphic novels and its video games.
However, if there ever were to be a more convincing statement
of intent in relaunching this franchise, it would have been
putting its marquee producer Robert Rodriguez to work in a
film so suited to his aesthetics and stylistic idiosyncrasies.
But Rodriquez’s pick to helm this film almost proves
to be reason enough to watch this given that Nimrod Antal
is one of the most exciting directors around these days.
Antal’s direction has always coincided with his a strong
sense of atmosphere and character development. With his fascinating
debut, "Kontroll" and his cleverly constructed meta-slasher,
"Vacancy" as well as with last year’s taut
action spectacle "Armored", Antal has shown himself
to be an effective genre director in that he’s both
comfortable in affirming a particular genre as he is deconstructing
it. And in "Predators", he infuses it with not just
a showcase of tried and tested sci-fi ideals but also a discernable
impression of a robust horror film.
Antal keeps things moving along at an exhilarating pace by
introducing a rag-tag team of mercenaries and criminals getting
air-dropped into a highly tropical and vegetative alien planet
tailored by the ruthless and single-minded Predator race as
a game reserve for the insufficiently armed humans and other
prey. Its mise-en-scene immediately harkens back to the jungle
warfare of the first "Predator".
As the movie gods demand, the herd gets thinned as the race
of alien hunters reveal themselves to be superior in both
their technology and understanding of game theory. Kept alive
by de facto leader, the preternaturally perspicacious Royce
(Adrien Brody), the band of humans begin to formulate their
plan of survival against the truly fearsome Predators and
their formidable weaponry.
Brody’s presence seems almost folly at first –
a gruff vocal inflection worthy of Christian Bale’s
in "The Dark Knight" underscores a predictably rote
tough guy but to his credit, a good actor always manages to
sell his act despite himself. Like his character, who sees
no virtue in human connection but instead adopts a ranger-like
approach to survival, Brody doesn’t seem to create much
chemistry with his cast mates in his relatively new role as
action hero. The rest of its main supporting cast are split
of into archetypes – Alice Braga is Isabelle, an Israeli
soldier and its burgeoning conscience, Topher Grace plays
Dr. Edwin, the geeky comic relief and notably, the talented
Walter Goggins of TV’s "The Shield" and "Justified"
is the smarmy knife-wielding death-row convict, Stans. Also,
rounding of the surviving humans is the reticent Yakuza gangster,
Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien) and the relatively noble Chechnyan
soldier, Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov).
Antal manages this character list well enough. As the chase
progresses, you get a distinct feel of each human before they
start to fall victim to their raison d’être. Besides
a late flurry of actual and conspicuous violence, "Predators"
actually fares better in its early scenes where the humans
explore their predicament and the film plays the suspense
card remarkably well. There’s an actual interest in
finding out the psyches of these mysterious humans who are
hunters and monsters on Earth but scurrying mice on the Predator’s
If anything else, the script provides little genuine surprises
in it storytelling. Given its inherent similarities, the film
bares a stunning amount of resemblance to last year’s
terrific "Pandorum" – where a space crew wakes
up with no memory onboard a vessel designed as a Noah’s
Ark of sorts to vicious creatures hunting them. There’s
a scene with Laurence Fishburne as the planet’s loony
veteran survivor that cribs more than just mood but actual
dialogue from the superior film.
"Predators" doesn’t change the game too much
but as far as delivering a solid and experience to its fanbase,
it releases itself from the shackles of relying on crossovers
and re-establishes the Predator as one of Hollywood’s
most fertile sources of sci-fi villains.
(Not a radical departure from expectations but a solid
Review by Justin Deimen