Friday, 16 July 2010
Directed by: Nimrod Antal
Written by: Alex Livtak & Michael Finch
Starring: Adrian Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, Walton Goggins & Laurence Fishburne
Ok, Predator is a bit like a religion for me. I hate to get all "fanboy" but it really is. A near perfect mix of action, sci-fi, 80s macho posing and unrelenting tension. Likewise, Predator 2 is just as close to my heart. Yes, Predator 2. For the lack of a better way of putting it, Predator 2 is (nearly) just as good as the original and simply awesome. Anyone that says otherwise is, well, wrong. So, to sum up; Predator: awesome. Predator 2: awesome. Wisely ignoring the events of the Alien vs. Predator films (which are far from awesome but certainly enjoyable on a guilty pleasure level), we now have Predators: which, to be honest and despite a certain amount of critical deconstruction and the inevitable/never ending/often ridiculous hopes that this would be an equal to the original, is actually pretty awesome.
No, it isn't as good Predator or even Predator 2 but as a belated sequel to these films, it's actually pretty good, stands its own ground and harks back to the days when action/sci-fi flicks where simpler and focused on simply entertaining us. Following a similar set up to the original, Predators sees a group of different soldiers/warriors/society's worst thrown into an unknown jungle with no idea how they got there. Forming a shaky alliance the "team" hesitantly make their way through this alien world all the while being hunted by an unknown mysterious presence. But we all know, and the team soon discover, what this presence is as the Predators systematically pick their prey off one-by-one.
Ratcheting up the tension, at least for the first half of the film, producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal serve up a taught, tight, monster movie. The tension is thick, the characters refreshingly dubious and painted in shades of grey, and, again, despite months and months of online bashing/negativity/hatred, Adrian Brody is just fine as the tough guy action hero. He might not be known for these kinds of roles but he does well, as the dude can act and handles himself well when all the action stuff kicks in. In fact, there is a lot more character and decent acting on show than one might expect from a film called Predators. Using gifted actors (such as Brody, Braga, Grace) gives us more believable characters to go along with all the action and gore. Antal wisely spends time with his characters between all the action bits meaning we get to know them somewhat.
Speaking of Antal, he is fast becoming one of Hollywood's most solid directors. Having helmed the really rather good and very underrated horror flick, Vacancy (and tough guy action flick, Armored) he was a good choice for helming a Predator flick. He shoots wide, keeps his editing tight but never over-cuts and can balance tension, character and action to make an entertaining whole. The set pieces are often thrillingly staged including a tense sequence involving some new and nasty Predator creatures and a taught shootout in what seems to be some kind of Predator camp. Some may disappointed that the action isn't bigger or more frequent but the set pieces are for once (and mercifully) not over-the-top or CGI enhanced. In fact, CGI is kept to the minimum and the action is more focused on confrontation and trying to stay alive than attempting to go over-the-top crazy.
Sure the makers don't nail everything. There is actually perhaps a bit too much character downtime and not enough Predator action. The second half is nowhere near as tense as the first half, too many plot twists and holes rear their ugly head come the final third and the film does tend to reference the first film a little too heavily on occasion. Still, this is a far better Predator film than one could have hoped for and for once hasn't been toned down or radically changed too much in order to get more teenagers (who have probably never seen or even heard of the original) into cinemas.
No, it isn't the Arnie original but trying to recreate that in this day and age would be ridiculous. One of the reasons Predator is so good is because of the time it was made in, when tastes and blockbuster ideals where much different than they are now. Predators is a modern take on the Predator mythology which, inevitably, will irk some fans but thanks to some solid direction and action, Predators holds its own ground. Plus, at the end of the day and much like the originals, it's a monster movie: dudes fighting monsters from another planet with guns. And on that level it works and entertains. Like I said, Predator is like a religion to me and Predators more than suffices as a sequel/continuation to that classic film.