Predators: Return of the Jungle Action Movie

13 Jul

Robert Rodriguez takes everybody’s favorite intergalactic hunters back to its franchise roots, the jungle. And a certain level of quality that the  two Alien v. Predator movies lacked. Predators is a good old fashion sci-fi/action- popcorn flick that meets it’s mark, but leaves you thinking that it really could have been better.

Don’t get me wrong it’s a solid B-level movie that will surprise alot of summer movie goers rapt in anticipation for Christopher Nolan’s latest installment of awesomeness, Inception.Though the film itself may be a welcome surprise to many the biggest surprise is it’s leading man, played by the Adrian Brody. The Pianist himself somehow pulls  this sometimes campy movie and over the top sci-fi ridiculous together and somehow makes it work.

Brody plays Royce, a lone-wolf mercenary, who finds himself falling from the sky onto an alien world, where he meets a gang of poorly developed side-kicks. Alice Braga plays Isabelle, the love interest/foil for Royce, but is just too soft and feminine to be believable as an Israeli Defense Force sniper. But hey  it’s Hollywood, even the deadliest female assassins have to moisturize. You’ve gotta bring in that lonely teenage, hormone driven, nerd demographic somehow and in a movie populated by gore, aliens and Brody’s nose, she does the trick.

And there is a ton of gore. The neon green blood of the Predators, maggot ridden bodies of dead humans and plenty of slicing, dicing and explosions causing all of it.  The massacre starts with Rodriguez’s favorite actor Dany Trejo (Desperado), the Mexican drug lord enforcer who meets such a swift demise that you think he was cast for the paycheck more than anything else.

It follows from there pretty much as expected.  Which easily is the movies greatest weakness. What starts off as a morality story about the lone wolf versus the morality of mutual humanity, quickly degenerates into the all to predictable mild suspense followed by gory action that leaves you with your protagonists to make a last stand. At one point one of the secondary characters just breaks off from the group to have a samurai style one on one match with a Predator. Not that I have a problem with samuri swords, but I’d like to know something about the Yakuza assassin who for some reason decides to take on a Predator by himself. The only thing bridging this kind of underdeveloped character, plot and theme together is Brody.

It’s strange to see the skinny, Oscar winning actor, Brody taking over the role of the original big guns, big muscles, action hero, Govenator Arnold Schwarzenegger. But Brody makes it work. Which is no small feet when you’ve got Topher Grace running around as a wise cracking doctor, who apparently is the worst killer in the group? Not that we ever sort out why. And then you’ve got Lawrence “I made the Matrix cool”  Fishburn popping in for a cameo just to provide the newest twist to the Predator culture: there are bigger, badder, wider mouthed Predators.

Not that you really need that particular twist for any other reason then to keep an art department busy making something cool looking. And the movie is generally pretty cool looking. The special effects are quality, and Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal made a wise move to bring back the costumed stuntmen to play the Predators. Rather, than the GCI’ed up linebacker sized, walking elephants of the AVP movies.

It’s pretty much exactly what you want from a Predator movie – guns and guts with a bit of quality. It’s just that the quality could have been better. At one point Brody says, “Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter.” This Ernst Hemingway quote is a nice segway into a short monologue that overtly states a simple, but on point, theme perfect for the movie. But then they kill an alien that is unexplained and Lawrence Fishburn shows up out of nowhere. That’s pretty much Predators in a nut shell, something good with something cool for no reason.

Directed by Nimrod Antal from the script written by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch, based on characters created by Jim Thomas and John Thomas. Starring Adrien Brody (Royce), Topher Grace (Edwin), Alice Braga (Isabelle), Walton Goggins (Stans), Oleg Taktarov (Nikolai), Laurence Fishburne (Noland), Mahershalalhashbaz Ali (Mombasa), Louis Ozawa Changchien (Hanzo) and Danny Trejo (Cuchillo). Produced by Robert Rodriguez, John Davis and Elizabeth Avellán; released by 20th Century Fox. Running time: 1 hour 47 minutes.

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One Response to “Predators: Return of the Jungle Action Movie”

  1. Chris July 15, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    I would feel remiss if I didnt add you missed some key concepts of this movie.

    It wasnt so much for “no reason”. I think the point was the Satre concept of hell being other people. This was best demonstrated through the inmate and the Sudanese enforcer’s interaction.

    It also led us to wonder who the real monsters were in the movie, a point Brody’s character and the Israeli sniper aluded to in several instances. These folks who wound up being hunted on this alien world were not sterling representatives of humanity. They were severely violent people being pit against a violently sadistic alien race.

    I feel when you add that to the mix it adds gravity to the plot. The director was making the point but had to be careful not to be too overt. I think he managed and balanced action with philosophy.

    I also think their original intent was to have Arnold as Dutch in the Fisburne role. That would have been amazing, but I guess the Governator would have been viewed as a monster if he fooled around in films while California suffers economically.

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