“Predators” begins with a shot of an unconscious man plummeting to the ground from an airplane which is a suitable image to kick off a 106 minute movie which itself careens through every characteristic of the action / horror genre except one—excitement.
It should be noted that “Predators” is not a remake or reboot of the much loved Arnold Schwarzenegger film but an addition to the series which has now swelled to include six films about an extraterrestrial life form with a bad attitude an even worse teeth. In this new story Adrien Brody leads a team of misfits—is there any other kind in this type of movie—made up of a who’s who of bad guys and gals. There’s a merciless mercenary, a Yakuza assassin, a Sierra Leone death squad goon, a death row inmate, a tough Russian VDV commando, a black ops sniper and a “one of these things is not like the others” character, a doctor. None have any idea how they landed in this strange world but it soon becomes clear they are there to hunt. Or should I say to be hunted. Hunted by big ugly extraterrestrials. “This planet is a game reserve,” says Royce (Adrien Brody), “and we’re the game.”
“Predators” starts off promisingly. The opening shot of Brody plunging to the ground looks cool and is rather mysterious. How did this happen? Where did he come from? It’s a good set-up for a story that should take us to interesting and unexpected places, Unfortunately “Predators” never matches the exhilaration of that first sequence.
Brody, playing against type as an action star, sets the tone for the film. As the defacto leader of the group he has the most screen time and not just because he has the biggest role. No, he has the largest amount of on screen time because he pulls a John Wayne and leaves gaping lulls between every sentence. A monologue that would take any other actor thirty seconds takes him one minute. Doesn’t seem like much but when the pace of the movie is as slow as Brody’s dialogue, what should have been an exciting romp with some good action, the odd spinal cord rip and some ugly aliens becomes a drawn out campaign to combat insomnia.
If “Predators” had been made in the 1970s—the era of “Logan’s Run” and “Soylent Green”—it might have been about something other than just a group of killers—and a doctor character who is essentially The Professor from “Gilligan’s Island”—learning the difference between hunting and being hunted. Mind bending it ain’t, but what should we expect from a director whose name resembles a fifth grade insult? OK that was a cheap shot at Nimród Antal, but if he’s going to only dish up tepid action—and the worst samurai sword fight ever captured on film—he could at least have tried to insert some subtext or substance; anything rather than another s-l-o-w monologue from Brody.
“Predators” doesn’t feel like a summer movie. It seems more like a Farch film—something that would be released in that dead February – March stretch when the studios dump all their bad movies into theatres.