Dir. Nimród Antal
Aus Rating: MA15+
Dir. Nimród Antal
Aus Rating: MA15+
It has been a very long time since I saw John McTiernan's 1987 sci-fi classic Predator. I didn't recall too much about that film as I headed into Predators, a 2010 modernisation of the franchise from writer/producer Robert Rodriguez, but figured it did not matter as this new addition was a remake. As I sat in my seat watching the movie, enjoying it a lot, I couldn't help but feel like this wasn't a remake at all. Firstly, Predators is not set on Earth whereas McTiernan's 1987 original was. Turns out I had my facts all wrong and this new film from curiously named director Nimród Antal was a sequel. It makes so much more sense now and, strangely, makes my fondness for this new film increase.
Opening with a thrilling sequence that throws the audience in as much befuddlement as the characters, Adrien Brody's "Royce" is falling through the sky approaching the ground faster and faster. Crash landing in thick jungle he soon discovers several others in the same mysterious situation. There's "Isabelle", a black ops fighter played by Alice Braga as well as a Tijuana drug cartel enforcer (Danny Trejo), a doctor (Topher Grace in comic relief mode from the word "go!"), an African death squad officer (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), a Russian troop from the Chechen War (Oleg Taktarov) and a death row inmate (Walton Goggins). They quickly realise they are, firstly, not on Earth and, secondly, not alone. Commence distressed monologues that end conveniently just as a new and extravagantly violent set-piece is to begin. Don't you love that about the movies? The monsters always wait conveniently until the hero has explained their dark and traumatic history of warfare.
Conveniently forgetting about Alien Vs Predator and it's own sequel Alien Vs Predator: Requiem (neither of which I have seen), Antal's Predators is exactly the sort of movie I wanted it to be. I was a fan of Antal's previous horror venture, Vacancy, which is a one-set film that took a nasty shredder to Psycho and came out being one of the few movies to legitimately scare me and have my curling up into a ball in recent years. Predators works in many ways that will surely satisfy audiences. Jumps and frights are here, but thankfully not overdone, and the action scenes are suitably bloody and fast-paced. Editing by Dan Zimmerman is nicely done, making the action easy to follow while John Debney's music is effective, taking cues from Alan Silvestri's original theme and his own brand of atmospherics and Jaws inspirations. Sound design and sound editing are both top notch and should warrant attention from certain awards bodies if they weren't so squeamish about certain genres.
What really should be commended is the cinematography by Gyula Pados. I admit that going from the royal estates of The Duchess to the jungles of a far away planet is a leap, but Pados does it well. In an era where it seems every big budget action movie is lensed through a filter of mucky, gray water, Predators is filled with vibrant greens of every shade, bright yellows and eye-popping reds. Even the aliens themselves have glowing green blood rather than some blackish, brownish goop that would be the popular, grungy thing to do. Unfortunately the final act descends into more common dark and grimy aesthetics. Perhaps Rodriguez and Antal ran out of ideas because at this stage the film becomes less interesting as it follows predictable patterns leading up to its conclusion.
As for the actors, they seem to be working at an above average level than I would expect for a film like this. Adrien Brody has been trying to make this alpha male tough guy routine look natural for him for a while now and here he gets it mostly right. Seeing this man with a weaselly face and a deceptively well-formed body strut around as the leader of the pack is actually kinda fun. I'm thankful he cut his ugly wispy bangs for starters. The rest of the cast do well, although Topher Grace is transparent as the good guy doctor and a late entry cameo by Laurence Fishburne is over-the-top. Predators is a perfectly solid action horror flick that should satisfy anybody who actually likes these sort of movies. There's a strong backbone to this movie that is missing from so many other action movies of late. B