Predators (2010)

THE SCOOP
Director: Nimrod Antal
Plot: A group of elite warriors are hunted by members of a merciless alien race known as Predators.

Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Thriller
Awards: -
Runtime: 106min
Rating: NC16 for strong violence, gore, and coarse language.

TRAILER:

IN RETROSPECT
Initially a film slated for direction by Robert Rodriguez, the maverick director of Sin City (2005) and Planet Terror (2007), Predators is one of a handful of hotly anticipated summer releases of 2010. But due to scheduling conflict, Rodriguez becomes producer and hands directing duties to Nimrod Antal. Born in Hungary, Antal has a short filmography that reads Control (2003) , Vacancy (2007), and Armored (2009). He is the kind of filmmaker whom if given (even) a meager US$40M (that’s the budget of Predators) to work on, there is still that looming suspicion that it may be money wasted.

Fans will flock to this film like vultures to corpses. I would even predict an easy $250M international gross within a week of its release. This film will make money, but is it the “Predator” film that we always wanted to see? Sadly, no. In fact, the best “Predator” film has already been shot – the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle directed by action maestro John McTiernan (Die Hard, 1988). McTiernan’s film remains to be one of the best action films of the 80s, and still remarkably holds up as a masterful action-suspense picture.

Antal’s Predators is as brilliant as Predator 2 (1990). Well, not much brilliance indeed. There will also be debate over whether Predators or Predator 2 is the true sequel to McTiernan’s film. Again, nothing of worth to debate on because there is not so much of a single frame in both films that suggest the quality of a “true sequel” like that of James Cameron’s Aliens (1986). Predators may be a throwback to B-movie sci-fi horror but its execution leaves viewers wanting.

Royce (Adrien Brody) leads a group of “chosen” people to fight against the Predators on a distant planet. As his character observes in the film, it is all a game of not so elaborate cat-and-mouse, but to entertain whom? Donald Duck? Penned by first-time writers Alex Litvak and Michael Finch whose script is as shallow as the water in their bathtub, Predators has many paper-thin characters who are dispensable to the plot.

In fact, their sole purpose (apart from adding to the body count) in the film is limited to the following: To ask “What the f--- is happening?” for the umpteenth time when paranoia gets over them, and/or to whine “Help me! Help me!” in pathetic fashion when they are about to be impaled by the alien hunters. And if I may add, Brody is somewhat miscast as a gun-wielding ex-soldier. Physically, he looks the part except for his face, which has this perpetual sad and vulnerable look that cannot be concealed even with a macho portrayal.

When the appearance of Laurence Fishburne’s character, Noland, halfway into film seems to be the highlight of the entire film, it really speaks volumes of Predators’ inability to engross or entertain. Antal shows glimpses of his talent for suspense filmmaking, but like Vacancy, he ends up being subdued by a poor screenplay. Visual effects are borderline decent for a US$40M film, but let’s put things in perspective , Neil Blomkamp achieved so much more with only US$30M for District 9 (2009).

In a nutshell, Predators is another pretentious and needless effort that tries too hard to please fans. Antal has actually won a Cannes award before. Now, that is more shocking than Mr. Pincer Face.

GRADE: D

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