The worst day of Adrien Brody’s life
While a big budget sequel to the cult classic “ Predator” is something many will have been waiting sometime for,(though they may have given up hope for the franchise after the abysmal dance scene in the sequel “Predators 2: Predator harder”) I have not seen the first
film. I do not feel that this hindered my enjoyment of the movie and I feel that an analysis divorced from any influence from the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic might be useful.With that perspective clear let’s get into the review proper.
The film begins with our protagonist (Adrien Brody) unconscious and in free fall through the sky’s of an alien planet. Upon landing we are soon introduced, in quick succession, to the primary cast who range from the typical soldiers/mercenaries ( Brody,Braga), to the more exotic gang affiliates( Trejo,Ali) and the downright absurd such as a death row inmate (complete with orange jumpsuit and played with panache by Goggins ) or the immaculately dressed Yakuza enforcer. Within five minutes all of the main players are assembled and cooperating, in twenty they have learned three things: they are not on earth, they are being hunted and they are fucked.
I mention this because the film hastily dispenses with any misunderstandings between characters about the situation, which is both refreshing and allows the action to properly get underway rather quickly. The motley crew of professional killers are universally well acted (perhaps with the exception of the somewhat one note Nikolai, who gets a few enjoyable lines in nonetheless) despite the admittedly hammy concept of being kidnapped to be hunted as game on an alien planet, and the subsequent clunky expository dialogue used to bring the characters to this realisation. Characters are killed off at a fairly steady pace throughout, and the less interesting among them are consequently given either less screen time or an earlier exit from proceedings.
The cosmic Brodywave which one rocked our universe has reformed itself into a rougher, tougher, more muscled Adrien Brody. My initial reservations about the casting choice (something along the lines of “Adrien Brody as the lead? Are these Predators opening a cafe?”) abated as the film went on and by the conclusion I was pretty well convinced of his bad ass action movie credentials. Likewise the gruff affectation to his voice initially stood out as unseemly, overcompensating and silly, however it begins to feel more natural as the film progresses.
This brings us to the portion of the film I find the most problematic, the conclusion. While all of the climactic action scenes are well executed and satisfying (including one specifically that is simultaneously epic and ridiculous in equal measure) the plot of the film becomes an issue. While a late yet genuinely surprising twist (exquisitely handled by Topher Grace) subverts expectations in an unexpected and pleasing manner, the ending itself seemed to offer little closure. I felt that the conclusion vacillated between an unexpected darker ending and the typical movie trope of having the hero get the girl and save the day, the result being a disappointing middle ground which offers the benefits of neither and an inconclusive final scene.
Plot point quibbles aside, the fact of the matter is that very few people will watch Predators expecting more than a forgettable yet fun cavalcade of carnage. On this promise Predators delivers and more, providing an ultraviolent, humorous treat. Solid performances and several fresh feeling story machinations elevate Predators beyond the typical action blockbuster schlock and more than make up for the high concept nonsense premise and the poorly conceived ending. While those hoping for an Oscar worthy rumination on the human condition will be at the wrong movie, those hoping for an enjoyably violent romp will get what they wanted and smile throughout. Camp one liners won’t be necessary.