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PREDATORS (2010) ***

A couple years ago, after viewing Aliens vs. Predator:  Requiem (on Christmas Day no less) I predicted that both the Alien and Predator franchises were officially dead in the water.  I’m glad director Nimrod Antal and producer director Robert Rodriquez proved me wrong and showed the world that the Predator franchise still has some life in it.  (Fortunately for us, Ridley Scott is currently hard at work revamping the Alien franchise too.) 


A group of strangers; some soldiers, some prisoners, all ruthless killers, are dropped into a jungle with no recollection of how they got there.  After wandering around the jungle for a bit, they realize that they are actually on another planet that acts as a game preserve for the bloodthirsty alien hunters, the Predators.  Slowly but surely, the group gets picked off by a horde of Predators equipped with all kinds of new hunting gizmos.  One grunt (Adrien Brody) takes the role of reluctant leader and tries to out-hunt the Predators.


Predators is not the classic the first film was.  It also lacks the cheap thrills of Part 2.  It’s even missing the fun geeky moments of Alien vs. Predator.  However, it is a fuck of a lot better than Aliens vs. Predator:  Requiem.  And because of that, I’m one happy man.


This flick reminded me in a lot of ways of a James Bond movie.  It’s essentially the same as the first movie and has all the moments you’d expect from the franchise (the scene where the Predator de-cloaks for the first time, the part where a guy gets impaled on the Predator’s claws, the spine-ripping, the one-on-one finale, etc.) but the formula is slightly different.  Predators also has an 80’s sequel vibe to it.  Basically what I mean by that is the filmmakers said, “Hey let’s just make the same movie again but with even MORE monsters!” 


Although I like that kind of thinking, I was hoping for just a LITTLE bit more imagination out of Rodriguez and Co.  I really wish Nimrod didn’t borrow so heavily from the first film.  He copies a lot of the action beats note by note and apes John McTiernan without really adding his own voice to the film.  But just because his direction lacks personality, it’s still efficient nevertheless.  After the shitty Vacancy and the so-so Armored; this is easily the best movie directed by a guy named Nimrod ever made.


There was three times during the film that made me say “Damn!” out loud.  The first time was when a Predator got decapitated, the next came when a dude blew up and the third was the excellent Yakuza vs. Predator samurai duel.  This scene is awesome and makes you wish Nimrod cooked up more little fun bits like this than just copied the original.


Brody’s performance is the real reason to watch the flick.  While he (obviously) lacks the physicality of Schwarzenegger, he makes a worthy adversary for the Predators because of his tactical skills.  This is the type of dude that is willing to sacrifice a team member just so he can study the Predator in action and figure out it’s weak spots.  Although you can easily guess he’ll have a change of heart by the end of the picture, I appreciated having this kind of ruthlessness in my hero.  He’s light years better than that pizza boy from AVP-R that’s for damn sure.  I also enjoyed seeing Laurence Fishburne Colonel Kurtzing it in the Predator wilderness too.


Predators leaves the door open for yet another sequel and it’s a door I’d love to step through in a few years time.  Maybe by that time, Rodriguez and Nimrod can inject a little more liveliness into the proceedings and deliver a sequel that can stand toe to toe with the original.  (And hopefully they can coax Arnold back into the Predator fold.)


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