Few movies involving alien beings hunting humans can be considered high art, and while Predators doesn’t surpass this observation, it retains many of the elements that make the genre entertaining. Bloody deaths, tense standoffs, and the thrill of survival against insurmountable odds complement the ragtag group of mercenaries that provide plenty of fodder and a bit of bravado. Thanks to a diverse cast of capable actors, the film manages to create some likeable personas (and certainly a few crazy ones), if only just enough that the audience won’t wholeheartedly root for the Predators to win.
Eight strangers awaken to find themselves thrown together in a mysterious jungle environment. Some are mercenaries, some are soldiers, and some are criminals – but all are killers. Royce (Adrien Brody) quickly takes charge and leads the group of stranded warriors through treacherous alien terrain to uncover the reason for their abduction. A band of ruthless predators have brought them to this remote planet to hunt them for sport, and as the group is slowly slain one by one, the remaining few must wage war against their savage captors in a bloody bid for survival.
The energy, the tension, and the suspense are all there. Yet the brilliance behind the original film’s plot evades this one for a predictable, though suitable, concept of pitting deadly soldiers against even deadlier monsters. It’s clear that the filmmakers are great fans of the Predator franchise, full of enthusiasm for their favorite alien hunters and teeming with excitement to place them in different scenarios and expand upon their established lore. Sadly, they’re just not the greatest filmmakers. Story takes a backseat to the action, a few of the characters definitely don’t belong, and attempts at homage feel more like recycled ideas, leaving Predators to wade in its monster movie genre without the hope of escaping it.
Predators is certainly not a great movie, but it is just about everything you’d expect. It’s impossible to top the original, so director Nimrod Antal’s next best shot would be to best the sequel – unfortunately this attempt only matched it. Credit is due to the filmmakers for never mocking their own work and taking everything seriously, regardless of how cheesy or ineffective the elements. The story mimics the first film a little too closely, adding only a small amount of difference to the group; they’re well-equipped, highly skilled and not afraid to fight, but this time they’re not experienced in working as a team, and they’re isolated on an alien world. Topher Grace doesn’t belong in the film at all, nor does the samurai duel between a predator and Hanzo (the alien dogs are a bit much too, even for this foreign universe), but despite a few faulty characters and a derivative, completely generic plot, much of the suspense, action, violence, sound effects, music and tone is faithful to the franchise.
“It doesn’t matter what happened or why,” Royce explains to his companions about their arrival. His speech answers all the questions of the skeptical and inquisitive – this is B-movie-quality science-fiction/horror, so the reasons and practicality of everything is best left alone. Predators was made for the fans and likely won’t appeal to anyone else. It does take survival and morality to new heights for the series, along with blood feud ideas from the graphic novels, creepy interior locations beyond the dense jungle, and unique personalities for the hunting. At least the familiar voice pattern recorders, infrared heat signature vision, cloaking devices, razor-sharp weaponry and open-ended conclusion return.
Unfortunately, the biggest gimmick of making the title plural and increasing the number of monsters is lost to the fact that the Alien vs. Predator movies already exist and feature larger quantities of baddies. Regardless, the most exciting piece of Predators is the music, principally identical to Alan Silvestri’s original composition. At least it turned out far better than Adrien Brody’s last alien encounter (see Splice).
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)