Starring: Arien Brody, Topher Grace, Lawrence Fishburne, Alice Braga, Danny Trejo, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov
Director: Nimrod Antal
Writer(s): Alex Litvak, Michael Finch
Cinematography: Gyula Pados
Original Score: John Debney
Running Time: 107 Mins.
A sequel to a hugely famous franchise that hasn’t really seen anything good from it in well over a decade, from Robert Rodriguez and his production company Troublemaker Studios, the director behind last years rather weak Armored and starring a man who won an Oscar for playing a Jew during the Holocaust alongside a sitcom stalwart, someone from lost and the briefest of appearances by the (usually) dependable Laurence Fishburne, as well as a Rodriguez regular in Danny Trejo…lets be honest expectations are mixed, even if the anticipation is high.
Predators really should be a no-brainer with Rodriguez overseeing if not directing, he is after all the master of trashy ( in the best possible way) gory, testosterone fuelled, and stylised film-making, one only needs to see a couple of his films to see why Fox would give the rights over to Rodriguez to reboot one of their (potentially) bigger franchises, the guy has Sin City, Desperado and From Dusk til’ Dawn under his belt, all of which would suggest perfect elements for a kick-ass predator experience. Sadly he decided to pass the reigns to Nimrod Antal, a man with little experience behind the lens and a complete lack of anything approaching film-making prowess.
Predators acts as a direct sequel to the 1987 Arnie starring original, Predator, whilst forgetting Predator 2 and even more wisely the Alien vs. Predator films, we are thrust back into the jungle setting of Predator, with a set-up that sees a band of mis-matched victims (all predators themselves, of the human species) set down on an alien planet for the titular baddies to hunt them down, what follows is largely a remake of the first film even harking back so overtly as to have a hulking great commando with an even bigger rail gun and a finale that sees the “hero” shirtless and caked in mud.
This almost retelling isn’t such a problem as the rest of the film’s gaping flaws, primary of these is the complete and utter sparsity of action scenes, from the open we are thrust headlong into the story but from then on in it slows to a crawl as what feels like hours is spent setting up characters who become no less forgettable as the film progresses leaving me wondering why characterisation was done at all, I’d rather see more action than lame acting in a film called Predators! But given the cast u may think this will make for interesting viewing, alas, there is a mixture of total weakness (Goggins and Braga) married alongside one of the most woefully ill-conceived casting choices ever (Brody) who is adequately pumped up but really is no Schwarzenneger, and the less said about Fishburne’s thankfully brief, and horrendously over-acted, cameo the better.
Amidst the film are glimmers of what could have been a balls out and stylish action fest, and when the fights with the predators come they are mildly diverting and teeter on the edge of being good but even in the weak attempts to humanize the human characters no time is spent on the predators themselves with things suggested but never made fruitful, such as adaptations in technology, the idea that there are strong and weaker strains and the suggestion that they are hunting other alien forms, but alas these are merely snippets that are discarded almost immediately in favour of the tedious band of mercenaries.
It really is a mystery how such an iconic creature has been mishandled so badly over the years with no-one seemingly able to get a handle on why they are so iconic through a film as a whole, all of which means like the Alien vs. predator films before it, Predators is at its best when the focus is on the aliens themselves but when we switch back to those we are supposedly meant to sympathise with there is nothing but boredom apparent, something which Predators sadly spend the majority of its time doing.
Yet another weak effort in a franchise that has been mishandled at every turn, spending most of the film with dull and miscast actors/characters and very little with the very thing we have paid to see means that save for two of three scenes Predators is a missed opportunity once again.