Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Review: Predators

It is commendable that the creators of Predators chose to return to the series’ roots for this sequel instead of following in the footsteps of the dismal AVP (Alien Vs. Predator) films. It is also clear that they hold the original film from 1987 in high regard. Written and produced by Robert Rodriguez, he chose Nimrod Antal to direct the film because he had enjoyed his previous works Kontroll (2003) and Vacancy (2007).

This film starts off in a jungle and anyone who has seen Predator will be feeling in familiar territory. However, as we meet our group of protagonists (each one landing via parachute and unaware of what has happened to them or where they are) it becomes evident that they are in completely unfamiliar territory. In fact, they aren’t even on the Earth…

As with the film that started it all, we have a group of people who know how to handle themselves in combat. Whereas they were an elite special forces team and their meeting with the Predator was unexpected and unplanned, here we have experts in different forms of warfare and violence, whose appearance on this strange planet definitely isn’t down to chance. They were all put here for a reason, and their skills and abilities set them apart. According to Robert Rodriguez, the title serves as a double-entendre because it could be referring to the human characters in the film as well as the alien hunters.

We have Royce (Adrien Brody) the American mercenary soldier who becomes the group’s reluctant leader. Isabelle (Alice Braga), the only female, is a sniper trained by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Edwin (Topher Grace) seems to be the odd-one-out as he is a doctor and unfamiliar with combat but maybe the Predators thought the group would be needing some medical assistance. Then there is mass-murderer Stans, Hanzo the Yakuza hitman, Russian Special Forces member Nikolai, Mombasa the death squad officer from Sierra Leone and Cuchillo, a drug cartel enforcer (played by Machete himself, Danny Trejo).

So the audience plays the familiar but fun game of ‘Who will be the next one to die?’ and wonders which, if any, of our cast of humans will make it through to the end of the film alive. It’s routine, but enjoyable. The group try to evade the Predators whilst searching for a way off the planet, they face different challenges along the way and even find help from some unlikely sources. This film was always going to be more about action than narrative and it delivers its promised adventure and violence. It doesn’t set any new trends, but it does offer an interesting expansion of the Predator universe for fans of the ugly beasties who take great pride in their trophy collections.

The events of the first film are discussed, and at one point, a character quotes lines from it verbatim. A homage? Or are they just trying to win over those who have watched the other films? Well it doesn’t damage the movie, it just kind of feels like the filmmakers are hiding in the shadow of its revered older brother. Maybe, if there is a next time, they will dare to step out into the open and produce something truly original.

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