A Killer Sequel
By Amy Nicholson
Now, more than two decades later, Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody (The Pianist) is taking a cue from the Governator and redefining his image in a sequel to Predator called Predators. While the title seems obvious, it was the only way to go since the original film had previously inspired a much weaker sequel, Predator 2, back in 1990, as well as two awful films in which the titular aliens battled with the creatures from the Alien film series: 2004’s AVP: Alien vs. Predator and 2007’s AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator Requiem.
Predators kicks into high gear from the first frame after Brody awakens from unconsciousness while hurtling through the sky in a parachute before crashing through trees into a jungle. Within moments, several other people have crashed around him, including a mysterious doctor (Topher Grace), a mass murder (Walton Goggins of FX’s The Shield) and a woman (Alice Braga) who’s just as tough as the rest.
They soon realize they’re not on earth but a jungle planet that serves as the hunting grounds for the vicious race of aliens featured in the Schwarzenegger original. Each of the humans was zapped by a blinding light, then awoke from their respective daily lives to find themselves hurtling through the sky.
They also come to realize that each of them has a violent background, ranging from Brody’s special-ops soldier to Goggins’ serial killer, who, incidentally, was yanked straight off of death row. But they must learn to trust each other in order to team up and defeat the dozens of aliens that are out to kill them in a variety of ways, including lasers, but mostly resembling the nasty jungle traps once used by the Viet Cong against Americans in Vietnam.
One other variable is the mysterious presence of a man (Laurence Fishburne) who has survived 10 hunting seasons and claims to know the only way to stay alive. But as they have to wonder if he himself is safe, the relationships unravel and everyone has to decide if they’re even safe from each other.
Predators has been brought to the screen by a pair of ace hands: producer Robert Rodriguez, whose love of action genre films was long established by such films as the Spy Kids series, Grindhouse and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. He originally took on the project in the mid-’90s with a script for Schwarzenegger’s character that never came to fruition.
But he and director Nimrod Antal, who previously directed the superb Austrian action film Kontroll, provide an expertly rendered film with lots of action, solid effects and performances that are far better than they need to be. When a film like this is able to draw quality actors like Brody, Fishburne and Grace, it’s either a step on the way down the career ladder or an intriguing change of pace for their careers.
Thankfully for viewers starving for hardcore sci-fi action this summer, Predators delivers.