Sunday, July 11, 2010

Predators Review

There's nothing that Hollywood currently loves more than gritty reboot. Take for instance Marcus Nispel's upcoming Conan reboot or Matt Reeves' wholly unclassy remake of Let the Right One In, called Let Me In; Clash of the Titans, the Punisher, Nightmare on Elm Street... there's too many of these god damn reboots for me to rationally list here, and the ones that are bad continually outweigh the count of those that are good, and, to be honest, and in most cases they're completely unnecessary.

Predators, to be completely clear, is not a gritty reboot. The intention of the preface here simply because so many people have likened it as such. What Predators is, however, is a proper continuation of the story that should have picked up where the original left off. Bear in mind that it's never brilliant, sometimes hilarious, often corny, and at times as long winded as some might envision a Merchant-Ivory production. Does any of the aforementioned mean that I disliked the movie? Ah, hell no. Quite the contrary.

It starts ridiculously, with Adrian Brody plummeting through the clouds unconsciously only to wake up in a panic and flail around until the last minute, when a parachute deploys and he's hurtled into the earth below. No sooner does he hit the surface when another man (Danny Trejo) slams into the ground just feet from where he stands. Then another less fortunate character, whose chute failed to deploy altogether is obliterated into the ground.

In total, a group of eight end up making the landing successfully, and after some quarrels occur (i.e. a big Russian dude with big friggin' mini-gun mowing down about an acre of jungle after mistaking Brody and Trejo for the enemy that put him there) attempt to gain some understanding of where they are.

Brody is insanely cheesy as an ex-Spec Ops American, Alice Braga is the sniper with Israeli special forces, Danny Trejo from an unnamed Mexican cartel of drug runners and kidnappers, Walton Goggins is also mostly hilarious as a convicted murderer due to be executed, and of course the Russian, played by Oleg Taktarov, is mostly stereotypical and completely disposable. This is not to forget Louis Ozawa Changchien as a mostly mute yakuza carrying around a sick modified 1911 with ivory grips, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as a displaced member of a Sierra Leone death squad, and of course (hack/gasp/cough) Topher effing Grace as a a seemingly non-violent victim, with a seriously retarded case of mistaken identity.

It starts off briskly from there, with predator hounds swarming them before the group makes it into the as yet unseen predators' camp where all sorts of ridiculously awesome carnage ensues. And when I say carnage, I don't at all mean in the neutered vein of the two previous AVP movies. Nimrod Antal's Predators earns its hard R rating and wears it like a badge of honor. You see folks impaled, exploded, flayed, heads crushed and throats slit before the movie finishes, and it relishes in showing these scenes of violence and gore.

About midway through, we're introduced to a completely loopy Laurence Fishburne who helps fill in the pieces of the puzzle that the characters themselves had yet to figure out, before he's summarily dispatched and we're led to the movie's climax. The film manages to tie itself in with the first movie, as well as give us a couple twists that weren't fully unexpected then ends tastefully with Long Tall Sally over the ending credits, which just made me smile.

Clearly there are problems with the movie. Adrian Brody is ridiculous to start, amping up the macho to fit into a physical role he's not meant for. But his delivery is so sincere, you can't help but appreciate it. Fishburne as well seems misplaced, and while his delivery is pitch perfect, he's too out of shape to buy his story, and his introduction slows the movie down to a hokey crawl. My largest complain, by far, is the casting of Topher "Eric Forman" Grace. His part is obnoxious and I pretty much hate his face. Fortunately in the movie it's also often a bloody face, and seeing what becomes of him makes the entire build-up worthwhile.

One of the things that's not a problem, though, are the predators themselves. We see the predator that we're familiar with, tribal and menacing, but he's captive of three larger predators, with completely new features to what we've seen in any of the other movies. We get a pretty spectacular showing of the predator tech, and some other rad concepts that I hadn't foreseen when going into the movie.

So while not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, it's hilariously entertaining, and does what I wish Predator 2 had done in the first place. The action is awesome and at times over the top and makes the last three entries in the Predator franchise look like children's television. Not really the ingenius return to form I was hoping for, the Robert Rodriguez produced, Nimrod Antal directed Predators is fun while it lasts, and makes my list of blu-rays to pick up when the time comes for it to hit shelves.


Aaron said...

nice, when did this hit theaters?

crime.wav said...

Decided very last minute to hit the Cinerama and see this last night. Fell asleep in the last 20-30 mins. Brody was indeed poorly chosen, but I agree that he did a pretty good job with the role. He looks around with scared intensity better than any current H'wood actor! All in all, I disliked all of the characters except Trejo and Ali. Braga does ok, but I found her difficult to understand (I was fucking exhausted! Should have had some coffee before going in but had no time!) It was around the mid-point w/ Fishburn's intro that I started to drift off. And I also hate Forman, I just wish I'd stayed awake to see what happened to his annoying ass! The action was pretty well set-up, I liked that the music followed in the footsteps (almost exactly) of Alan Silvestri's great original score, and that they managed to fit in Schwarzenegger's hand signals, the mini-gun, a few key shots, etc., without really being flagrant about it. When Brody does the 'raised arm, closed fist' signal to stop, I cracked up, other theater-goers looked at me questioningly, and I knew it had been a subtle nod to the old-school fanbase...