Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In short: Predators (2010)

A bunch of action movie clichés is abducted by aliens and parachuted onto a jungle world.

Now Tough Guy American Mercenary (Adrien Brody, speaking with a very silly Deep Manly Man Voice that gives Christian Batman a run for his money), Sniper With A Heart (Alice Braga), Danny Trejo (Danny Trejo), Russian Guy With Extra Large Gun (Oleg Taktarov), Untrustworthy Psycho In Prison Uniform (Walton Goggins), Big Black Man From Africa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), Yakuza Dude (Louis Ozawa Changchien) and Baby-Faced Doctor (Topher Grace) find themselves hunted by a trio of the loveable Predator species.

After some fighting, some dying and little thinking, the survivors meet  Larry Fishburne, who has survived quite some time on the planet and now proceeds to not just chew the scenery but eat it whole. Very probably with ketchup.

Anyway, the meeting with ole Larry doesn't turn out too well, and so the survivors of the survivors have to carry the fight to the aliens in the hope of stealing their spaceship.

I have to admit that Predators has exceeded my expectations regarding its quality quite a bit. Of course, I have seen both Alien(s) vs. Predator films, and therefore expected this one to be about as fun as getting my head mashed in with a big rock while Justin Bieber sings in the background, which probably is the kind of  expectations most easily exceeded.

Obviously, the movie is as dumb as a rock, and pretty darn silly to boot, but so was the best/only good film of the Predator franchise too (Vietnam "trauma" subtext notwithstanding). However, that first Predator was also a pretty great action movie, interested in the things all pretty great action movies are interested in - explosions, people dying in painful ways and gunfights - and in that respect it was an admirable success.

Although Predators isn't quite as good at the action as the old McTiernan piece (and hopefully does contain fewer future politicians in its cast), it seems to try to go back to the roots of the series by making an entertaining action flick with neat looking aliens as the main bad guys, and not whatever Aliens vs. Predator was supposed to be. As long as nobody is talking and the film doesn't attempt characterization, director Nimrod Antal delivers an entertaining joy ride of a film with more than enough dumb fun to keep me happy.

Dialogue and characterization are really bad, though, with "ethnic" characters I would call racist if the white people weren't painfully flat cardboard cut-outs, too. As it stands, the film's script just doesn't contain people as much as it does moving fleshbags the scriptwriters once saw in other movies and have transported into their own without a second (or first, I suspect) thought. There's some rambling dialogue about the protagonists being monsters themselves etc etc that's supposed to provide thematic depth, but it is much too superficial and ill thought-out to work. The actors are doing what they can with what they are given (which in Fishburne's case means provoking tears of laughter), but it's not much.

However, the shooting and the shouting stays fine throughout, so if you're going into Predators looking for cheap thrills, you're in for a good time.


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