Nimrod Antal’s “Predators” is probably one of the most simplistic action movies of 2010. Probably of all time. It’s a movie so void of any thinking or brains behind it you don’t have to do much except sit back and let the series of events unfold before your eyes and just watch people walk around and shooting things in a wooded locale. “Predators” offers no reason for knowing about the films before it, about the mythology, or about the overall concept. You just have to know that a bunch of criminals and soldiers have been dropped on to a jungle, are being hunted by something, and have to survive. That’s more a paper thin concept than an actual plot and nothing beyond that happens. Antal’s film would love to liken itself after the original “Predator” but in reality it’s just another retelling of “The Most Dangerous Game,” and doesn’t demand much from its audience.
For such an experience that just asks us to sit and watch, “Predators” does the job pretty well, and as someone open to most of what Rodriguez has done with action, there are signatures of the director’s own presence that lends some flair to the overall premise that is really just better suited for a video game when all is said and done. Whether that’s a compliment or a put down I still can’t decide. Among all others, Alice Braga shines as an action heroine who manages to be handed the absolutely best sequences of the action film, and makes her character her own. Louis Ozawa Changchien also provides the face for one of the best characters of the bunch as Hanzo, the mobster who manages to use his skills as a criminal to survive and engages in a rather fantastic one on one fight in the climax of the film.
Let’s face it people, there’s just nothing to do with “Predator” anymore. People have come and gone, tried again and again, and there’s nothing to do with it that’s new, fresh, or original. Take “Predators” which is just “Saw” in space once you cut through all of the pretense and illusion that it’s something you’ve never seen before. A group of strangers wake up in a mysterious location, all have to work to find out what’s happening, enter in to a series of traps, must outwit their hunter behind the scenes, and try to survive with their limbs in tact. That’s been all of the “Saw” sequels, and here it’s just relatively the same concept re-done with trees and soldiers to make it feel like a new spin on the “Predator” concept when it’s really just the same formula re-done to look like the original movie.
There’s a bunch of lip service paid to the 1987 classic with Braga’s character recalling her convenient encounter with Dutch as he explained the predator hunting him and his friends in shocking detail, there’s a geeky soldier added to the mix a la Topher Grace (with a twist!), and why are they even in a jungle and not a controlled environment of the Predators when it’s made clear in the beginning most of these characters have never even been in an actual jungle? Because it reminds us of the first film. And nothing else. Beyond that there’s very little rationale behind most of what occurs here. Why did they drop the humans on to this forest? Why supply them with parachutes? How did the characters know they had parachutes that would even work? Why did they wake up before colliding with this new world?
If the predators have the power to surprise the humans and kidnap them… would that really even be considered hunting at all? Why pull such a cheap ploy if in the first two movies it’s made clear their central purpose is hunting honorably? How did main character Royce even realize the predator dogs were being used to draw them out? How did he know they were just pets for a higher predator in the first place? Why didn’t these aliens ever grab humans in the first place instead of going down to Earth as we saw in the first few movies? Why don’t we ever see the predator hounds until now? How did they even keep track of these human warriors in the beginning? Why didn’t they transport other alien species with the humans (which, quite honestly would have been much more entertaining and exciting)?
I’m not sure yet, but Antal and Rodriguez seem to be building their own canon instead of reconciling this continuity with the previous films continuity, or else there wouldn’t be so many glaring inconsistencies and pure lapses in utter logic. As for the overall energy present, there’s very little fun to be had if you’re used to the charisma spewed by the stars of “Predator.” There’s definitely no Arnie, Bill Duke, or Carl Weathers to keep you entertained, so most of the people here look absolutely bored and annoyed. The characters of Royce and Isabelle are even given a quasi-sexual chemistry to help enhance a cast of mismatched actors who lack any sort of friction that would normally be entertaining to sit through. The script, as penned by two screenwriters, is often quite lethargic with horrific dialogue (Royce: What the fuck are you? Noland: Alive!), and one liners that are there to just lay out the shreds of plot we’re given and little else.
When all is said and done there isn’t a lot of reason behind this movie beyond trying to revive the franchise as a sort of three part epic that reboots and rebuilds the entire concept. And instead of realizing what made the original so amazing, it instead just rehashes much of what we’ve already seen and there’s not a lot of thrills to be had beyond it. If you’re one of those people who don’t want to be annoyed by those irritating elements like plot, characterization, depth, common sense or logic, then “Predators” is the movie for you. I on the other hand just managed to sit through it with enough patience to enjoy it on some base level. Beyond the insanely ridiculous plot holes, 1987’s “Predator” remains the superior film of them all.