“Predators” Movie Review

     Getting the right people behind the camera turns out to be the trick with “Predators”, produced by Robert Rodriguez, directed by Nimrod Antal, and starring Adrien Brody.  In the heart of every self respecting man is the highly quotable testosterone fest “Predator”, the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger action film which pitted a small Special Forces unit against a alien hunter who had come to earth to test his skills.  Predator is a special film.  One of the best cult science fiction films of the last 25 years without a doubt.  A 1990 sequel and two Alien vs Predator films tried to give life to this franchise, but all failed in a number of ways.  So does the new “Predators” reboot breath new life or more hot air?  Fortunately, the filmmakers come through with flying colors as Predators holds its own against the original and is sure to bring in a new legion of Predator fans.

     The premise of this new film is simple.  In the first shot, we meet Royce as he is free falling from the sky onto an unknown planet.  He doesn’t remember anything but a flash of light.  Soon he finds others who have also been dropped into this jungle environment.  Each person, they find, has something in common.  They are all killers from different ways of life and have been brought together for some unknown reason.  Of course, it doesn’t take long for this crew to figure out what is going on.  As Royce, Adrien Brody, states after run ins with the Predators and their dogs, they are on an alien game preserve...and they are the game.  And so begins the chess match as tactics and wits are matched between the surviving humans and the three Predators hunting them.

     Though this premise may sound like something you’ve seen before, I can tell you the film is loaded with twists, hidden characters, and several surprises you probably won’t see coming.  The dialogue is snappy and at times very funny and I believe these scenes are there so you grow an attachment to some of the characters, knowing they will likely die later.  Nimrod Antal’s direction is superb, particularly in the action sequences which are inventive and original.  It is clear a lot went into the design and the preparation for these sequences and the end result doesn’t disappoint.

     The supporting players are all good and each is given their moments to shine.  Seeing Oleg Taktarov in the film, playing the Jesse Ventura type role from the original, reminded me of his early UFC fame.  He certainly has come into his own in his acting roles and this is exactly the type of role he excels in.  Rodriguez regular Danny Trejo makes an impact early in the film and his demise plays a key role in an important scene later in the film.  Walton Goggins is hilarious in his role as a death row inmate and provides comic relief during some very tense scenes. I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the cameo by Lawrence Fishburne, who in his limited screen time steals the show playing a survivor who claims to have been on the planet for 10 seasons! Clearly, the supporting cast came to play.

     If this were just a simple chase movie with the principle characters running around getting picked off one by one, this wouldn’t be a favorable review.  Instead the filmmakers treat us to characters who actually think before they act and are willing to put themselves on the line in order to succeed.  The Predators get a face lift too with all sorts of new gear and even the introduction of a elite race of predators who are apparently better hunters than the predators we have seen in the other films.  There are so many original touches throughout and I’m thrilled this film hit the mark.  It is as if the only Predator film that exists is the original as it is the only film referenced during the movie.  Fans of the genre will also be pleased the film is filled with gore and easily earns its “R” rating.  Remember when we all complained the first AVP movie was rated “PG-13”?  Don’t worry about that here.  Predators is everything you could ever want and then some.  GRADE: B+