“How do you kill them?” “However you can!”
Alright so Predators has arrived and before I get started, I’d like to say a couple of things. 1) Who knew back in ’87 this Sci-Fi monster flick would have turned out to become such a huge franchise. This would include the original classic and of course the diarrhea which followed right behind. I mean if anyone enjoyed the sequel or those horrible AVP flicks – with all due respect – what is it that you look for in a film? (We all dance to the beat of our own drum as they say! – Moving along!) 2) It makes me really happy to have walked out and feel like Rodriguez – although he didn’t direct it – didn’t try to remake the film, and turn it into a mish-mash of junk for the sake of following the steps of everyone else that’s fucked up some of our film history’s greatest flicks. (Cough – Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Karate Kid, Nightmare on Elm Street etc.) I recall in an interview earlier this year where Rodriguez stated how there’s no way he could compete with the original and how he wasn’t going to touch it. There’s nothing about it that needs to be redone other than taking the same premise (LOTS of similarities) and perhaps adding to the excitement with a few twists and turns. Ladies and Gentleman, that’s exactly what was done! The man paid homage to the ’87 version by adding it as back story towards this one and referenced a lot which definitely entails what the actual sequel should have been like. The difference here is that he swapped planets and now the humans are on their turf rather than them on ours. It’s a game of survival and with complexities tied into all the characters as they learn why they’re there one by one, the stakes are raised and the smartest and strongest will prevail.
I found this film to be quite entertaining and not boring at all. There’s a lot of dialog, however, the purpose of the dialog is truly a necessity. As they each strip down to their inner core of personalities and reasons, it started to develop a sense of relation towards them. Just like the first time around, the levels of human unity and persistence towards answers truly unfurls and without any crack-falling, the film doesn’t disappoint with all the gun play and explosions for those who thrive on it. SHIT – there’s even a sword fight in this one too. So it covered a lot of the elements which are sought upon a Sci-Fi thriller – especially during contemporary times. And another thing which stood out was the diverse cast which is laid out in this film. It seems as if Rodriguez really wanted to stretch himself out internationally as all the characters represent a specific type of warrior which defines many different cultures. That was really pleasing for me to see as they use their personal “home-grown” tactics to fight and with much reason and cause. There were some scenes I would have loved to have seen changed and the ending pretty much unveils a bit of routine, but it didn’t fail to present a redeemed story after what’s been presented the last few years.
S’up, bitch!? You gonna do something!?
SPOILERS (If you hate spoilers, scroll down)
In the year 2010, a mercenary named Royce (Adrien Brody) awakes in freefall over a jungle. Upon landing, he is confronted by heavily-armed individuals including Russian Spetsnaz soldier Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), Mexican drug cartel enforcer Cuchillo (Danny Trejo) and IDF sniper Isabelle (Alice Braga). They encounter more people dropped from the sky, including RUF officer Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), American Death Row inmate Stans (Walton Goggins), silent Yakuza assassin Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien), and an American doctor, Edwin (Topher Grace). They are cold-blooded killers with the apparent exception of Edwin. The last thing they remember is a light, then waking up in freefall.
Trying to find high ground, they spring a series of booby traps, the creator of which has been killed by an energy weapon. They discover they are on an alien planet and are attacked by quadrupedal creatures that they fend off until the creatures are called away by a whistle. Chuchillo is abducted, mortally wounded and left in a field as bait for a trap. The group abandons him and Isabelle executes him with her sniper rifle, not knowing he is already dead. Royce deduces that they are being hunted in a game reserve; the quadrupedal creatures were being used in a manner similar to hunting dogs. They follow the creatures’ tracks back to a campsite, where skinned carcasses are hung and a captive Predator is bound to a monolith. They are attacked by three cloaked Predators who kill Mombasa as the rest of the humans escape into a river. Isabelle reveals that she has prior knowledge of the events from the first predator film, including the Predator’s use of infrared sight and Major Dutch’s (Governor Arnold) use of mud to hide his heat signature.
Royce organizes the group to set a trap for the Predators. They are attacked by an insectoid creature, another alien that was released onto the planet as game. The alien is killed by a human wearing scavenged Predator equipment, a U.S. Air Cavalry Soldier named Noland (Laurence Fishburne), who was brought to the planet ten “seasons” before, but has survived by hiding from the Predators in the remains of a crashed space ship, his survival coming at the expense of his sanity. Noland takes them to his hideout, where he explains their situation: the Predators have been harvesting fighters from Earth and other planets for centuries, using them to improve their hunting skills. The Predators always come in groups of three and there is a blood-feud occurring between two different tribes – the “black” tribe, which is larger and more aggressive, and the “classic” Predators seen previously. The Black Predators and Classic Predators are compared to wolves and dogs, respectively, by Nolan. The Predators have a spacecraft near their camp, which Royce resolves to commandeer in order to leave the planet. As the group rests Noland attempts to murder them by smoke suffocation, in order to take their equipment as he believes it is every man for himself. Royce alerts the hunting Predators, who break into the ship, killing Noland. Nikolai is wounded helping Edwin escape and sacrifices himself with a Claymore mine, killing a Black Predator.
Immediately after the band escapes they are set upon by another Black Predator that kills Stans. As the group flees Hanzo stays behind and faces the Predator in a solo duel with a katana that results in both their deaths. As the final three escape Edwin is crippled by a Predator trap. Royce attempts to convince Isabelle to abandon Edwin but she refuses, and Royce continues to the camp alone in order to free the captive “classic” Predator. He negotiates with it to allow him to return to Earth on its spaceship. Isabelle and Edwin are captured by the last Black Predator and thrown into a pit, where Edwin paralyzes Isabelle with a neurotoxin and reveals to her that he is a serial killer who now wishes to work with the Predators to help them hunt humans, as he blames humanity for ruining his medical career and making him a wanted fugitive. After a fierce battle The Black Predator decapitates the Classic Predator and destroys the departing spaceship. However, Royce never boarded the craft and returns to rescue Edwin and Isabelle from the pit. Edwin attempts to attack Royce but is disarmed and mortally wounded. Royce booby-traps his body with hand grenades to wound the Black Predator, then attacks it with a crude bone axe after covering his body in mud and lighting several fires to hide his heat signature from the Predator’s infrared vision. With Isabelle’s help, he kills the Black Predator. Royce and Isabelle look into the sky to observe more humans and other aliens being dropped into the jungle. Royce vows to find a way off the planet.
Director and Producer – side by side
Overall, visually the film is gorgeous, grainy and one can tell it must have been a swampy set while on location in Texas and Hawaii. The heat and humidity is clear and the sounds of the jungle, blended with the crackling of the Predators really delivered a clear sense of creepiness. Keeping the score pretty much the same as well as the visions from the hunting creatures made me feel like I wasn’t really watching a different film, however, as time moves on you do realize it’s another story and start to bug out at the sense of mirrored similarties between the ’87 verson and this year’s.
With that said, I normally HATE remakes, but I’m okay with this one. It didn’t anger me in any way like all those cry-babies over LeBron James and his decision and if seeking out a pretty good flick to sink your attention to, this would be it. Kudos to everyone involved and much love and respect to Rodriguez for not throwing this franchise a hatchet job. I’m sure there will be some who will hate it, but hey, what can we do. It’s life!
Genre: Action/Adventure and Science Fiction/Fantasy
Roars: 4 Out of 5
Rated: R / Run Time: 1 Hr. 45 Min.
Cast: Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Danny Trejo, Walton Goggins
Director: Nimrod Antal