One ugly mofo

What made the 1987 classic “Predator” so entertaining was the fact that it was as bombastic and violent as any movie that had come out of that decade. And with Ahnuld as the lead spouting off one-liners like a comedian on crack, who couldn’t love it? And so now, after 20+ years of trying to resurrect the franchise with a laughable sequel and the “vs Aliens” storyline, director Nimrod Antal and a great cast do what should have been done a long time ago..namely take the original idea and make it better (in some cases)!

Although I didn’t HATE the sequel or the “Aliens vs Predators” idea, it just seemed that when you took the cool Predators and faced them off against NYC police or aliens who have no personality but spit deadly venom, they lost what was unique about them in the first place…their willingness to adjust in the heat of battle. I have to imagine the Predators would have just torn up Danny Glover in a “real” situation and they would have figured out how to kill the Aliens fairly easily after facing off against them time and time again. In this film, the soldiers are once again living & breathing chess pawns who are mercenaries and psychopaths who adjust and think quickly. Obviously, in an unknown jungle, they are going to learn to survive and this is where the Predators are at their best. As in the original, the jungle is the best place for them to showcase their unique abilities and it’s in this environment where there are places to hide, places to climb and places to listen to twigs snap and water churn that they excel.

Adrien Brody, who is best known as a more subtle actor (The Pianist, The Village, King Kong) actually is quite believable as the breathy Royce, a rogue mercenary who is dropped from a plane to land in an unknown jungle. Once he lands (quite abruptly), he finds that he is not alone. Several different soldiers and a prisoner who had been up for execution have also found themselves in this situation and so they proceed with caution, trying to figure out why they were all “abducted.” From there, they start to figure out that they are not on Earth and that they are being hunted. And then it’s complete mayhem from there on.

Although this group of rowdies isn’t quite up to par with the original’s group of soldiers (Jesse Ventura kicked ASS!!!!) or even the inmates of “Con Air”, they still put in a decent performance. Danny Trejo puts in a fine performance (can’t wait for “Machete”!!!) and the rest of the no-name cast of players do what they are meant to do (namely die painful deaths at the hands of the Predators). Alice Braga is the heart of the movie. Her soldier is a true patriot, one who kills for a reason, not for money or the blood of it. So when she and Brody clash over why they were chosen for this form of bloodsport, it makes the movie seem all that more reasonable. The only character terribly miscast is Topher Grace (again). He appears to be a comedic element that fails for most of the film and then his role gets shifted into something else and I’m not buying it. It was almost as if the writers needed one more “name” in the cast and so he was written in. It’s not a huge detriment to the film, but it is annoying and I wish they had decided not to do it. But it is what it is and I’ve moved on…

So in brief, “Predators” is, by far, the best of all the sequels. It’s a huge step forward in that it pays homage to the original without seeming too familiar and the acting is pretty damn good for a summer action flick. I recommend it to anyone who likes violence without huge amounts of gore and to those who miss the glory days of Arnold and the cast of the upcoming “The Expendables”!

Oveall Rating: B+


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