Director: Nimrod Antal
Cast: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Laurence Fishburne
"If it bleeds, we can kill it."
That line is one of my all time favourites from the movie Predator, spoken by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who played a soldier that encounters a deadly alien warrior in the jungles of Guatemala. The alien killed and made trophies out of Arnie's men before he finally defeated it. It is still one of the best sci-fi action films ever.
Now enter Robert Rodriguez, the director best known for the Grindhouse films, Spy Kids and From Dusk Till Dawn. He had been working on a screenplay for a sequel to Predator in the early 90s, but was never able to make it into a film. Now he finally gets his chance, but he's in the producer's chair this time around, letting Nimrod Antal take the helm.
In this sequel, a group of men and one woman are abducted from Earth and literally dropped onto another planet. They find themselves in a never ending jungle that they don't recognize. We have Royce, a mercenary; Isabelle, a sniper for the Israel Defence Force; Stans, a Death Row convict; Nikolai, from Russian Special Forces; Mombasa, RUF death squad member from Sierra Leone; Chuchillo, enforcer for a Mexican drug cartel; Hanzo, a Yakuza assassin and Edwin, who claims to be a doctor but is really hiding something.
Due to the fact that they are dangerous individuals, they have a hard time agreeing with one another, much less decide what to do next. Eventually, they learn to survive together once the Predators and their hunting dogs start attacking them. Then they meet Noland, a man who has survived on this planet for a long time after being a prey just like them.
And like in the first film, the fun is in watching who gets killed next and who is left standing in the end.
Rodriguez and Antal have basically done a great job here with Predators. In keeping to the true spirit of the original, the two of them have made plenty of homages to the first film, and I mean plenty. The jungle setting, the music score, even the song that plays in the closing credits is taken from the first film. There are also a few scenes in Predators that are inspired from Arnie's original. Rather than looking like a total ripoff, Rodriguez and Antal successfully fuse these elements with their own ideas to make a truly violent and interesting sci-fi film of their own.
The casting is also spot on. Adrien Brody, who would probably never be caught dead in a film like this, buffs up and makes for a convincing action hero. As Royce, Brody makes him a self serving man at first, but does the right thing in the end. Alice Braga and Topher Grace also shine as Isabelle and Edwin respectively. Isabelle is no damsel here, but even a tough girl like her shows fear towards the Predators, and Braga does it well. Grace is also memorable as the supposedly normal guy that no one would give a second look, until his true colours shine through in the climax. Walton Goggins from TV's The Shield provides some much needed humour as the Death Row convict Stans. He's the one that gets the best lines.
But as good as this sequel is, it still doesn't quite match up to the original. It is better than the messy Predator 2 though. The one thing working against Predators is the fact that it's a sequel, thus the originality of a mysterious, invisible terror picking off a bunch of tough men is no longer there. Arnie's Predator will always be the benchmark for its successors to live up to. Predators makes a good sequel, and a memorable one at that, but it doesn't quite outshine the original. Also, Laurence Fishburne is a bit wasted here. His role, though limited, will be quite memorable thanks to Fishburne's performance, but he deserves better.
In conclusion, I'll say that this film lived up to my expectations. It's bloody, kick-ass and fun. What more can a guy ask for? (4/5)