Star cast: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Laurence Fishburne, Alice Braga, Danny Trejo, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Oleg Taktarov
Plot: A group of elite warriors finds itself being hunted by an alien race, Predators, on a foreign planet. Fighting back is the only option.
What’s Good: The first half hour, as it is a good build-up to the rest of the drama.
What’s Bad: The rest of the film, with just violence and gore, no explanations.
Verdict: Predators disappoints, especially if you are a Predator fan.
Loo break: Several; during the long jungle walks and the monologues.
Robert Rodriguez’s Predators is about a group of elite warriors, who find themselves on a foreign planet, being mercilessly hunted by giant and sophisticated aliens know as Predators. As the third film of the famous Predator franchise – that started with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Predators in 1987 – the film falls short of expectations by any standards.
The basic plot of the film goes thus: a motley group of armed human fighters finds itself mysteriously transported to a dense jungle and attacked by a pack of ferocious four-legged alien beasts. Before the humans in the group can even breathe, they discover, to their utter disbelief, that they are not on earth but on an alien planet! So far, so good. Now, mysterious and invisible creatures start taking the humans out one by one. In spite of their earthly killer instincts, the group of elite fighters find themselves cornered against the mighty enemy. Royce (Adrien Brody), a mercenary, figures that they are being hunted by the alien race and have been handpicked for the kill. He vows to get off the alien planet and defeat the inhabitants (from this point onwards, christened Predators through a reference to the earlier films), and unflinchingly uses others in his group as human bait to track them. The only female in the group, Isabelle (Alice Braga), an Israeli Defense Forces sniper, opposes Royce’s plan. She follows him everywhere, nonetheless. A couple of exciting and bloody human-alien fights later, the group next meets Noland (Laurence Fishburne), who too was taken to the planet but had managed to survive by learning the Predators’ ways (and stealing their invisibility cloak!)
Further, Noland tells the human baits that the Predators are an extremely adaptable group of warriors who evolve at a hat’s drop and that the only way to survive them is to sit out the hunting season. And that the alien beasts fight amongst themselves, depending on what their size is… All said and done, Noland pretends to doze off, only to try and kill all of the refugees in their sleep. Left with no choice, Royce has to draw the attention of the Predators, a move which leads to disastrous results. The rest of the film has all the typical elements of a sci-fi, horror, B-grade flick: spaceships, betrayal, lots of green-coloured blood, a sword-fight, and even a tiny love story.
Michael Finch and Alex Litvak’s script is imaginative but fails to answer a lot of questions. How did the human elite warriors land up the distant planet? Who put them there? What is the purpose of the whole teleport-hunt-kill enterprise? In a bid to use visual effects to the maximum and make the alien planet believable (though it looks very much like Earth), the writers create a breed of alien quadruped animals, that do not serve any purpose. Their inclusion of stereotypical characters – the cunning doctor, Edwin (Topher Grace), a rapist on death row (Walton Goggins) – belies a failed attempt at creating petty conflicts within the group, again stories that go nowhere. However, the writers have, to their credit, retained all the special characteristics of the Predators, which are as ruthless as ever.
It’s not just the loose script or the slow pace that makes the latter half of the film a tiring watch. At times, there is too much talk or some ear-piercing background score (John Debney). The set design is tacky. Special effects are effective, though the design of the alien characters leaves much to be desired.
Director Nimrod Antal cannot uplift the broken script but he does manage to build up some anticipation (even horror) during the first half of the film, when the humans are figuring things out.
Adrien Brody, as the tough guy, Royce, and Alice Braga, as Isabella, do able jobs. Laurence Fishburne (of The Matrix fame) is effective in his cameo. The rest of the cast does a fair job.
The final word: Those who don’t mind watching excessive gore or Hollywood B-grade films may definitely enjoy Predators. It might even make an okay watch for anyone who hasn’t seen any of the earlier films in the franchise: Predator (1987), Predator 2 (1990), or the crossover films, Alien Vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem (2007). But for diehard fans, Predators is a huge disappointment as it belies its legacy.
Watch Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Predator instead. Because once inside the theatres, as Adrien Brody exclaims in the last dialogue of the film, “There’s no way off this f***ing planet!”
– By Mrigank Dhaniwala