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Adrien Brody, action hero?  Whoda thunk the skinny feller representing Queens had it in him?  This is the year Brody let his geek flag fly playing a quasi-otaku scientist with serious boundary issues in Splice and now here he is in what is possibly his most unlikely role, all pumped up with six-pack on display taking over for Arnold Schwarzenegger in this addition to the Predator franchise.  What’s not completely surprising is that Brody’s notable talents see him through this unapologetically B-movie popcorn chomper.

Completely erasing the stain of the 1990 sequel to the 1987 original, Predators is very graphic novel in its fantastic and nihilistic sensibilities.  When we first meet Brody’s character, Royce, he is dreaming amongst the clouds. This would be because he’s been chucked out of a plane while totally unconscious.  Clearly the clicking ears resulting from a lack of chewing gum whilst in free fall has awoken him because this resourceful guy manages to deploy a dodgy parachute mere feet before a very sloppy end.  Surveying his unfamiliar jungle-like surroundings this soldier discovers it’s raining sociopaths. Hardcore soldiers and criminals drop from the skies all around our confused fellow with varying degrees of success (- see: dodgy parachute).  Soon the forest is filled with a Guatemalan freedom fighter, a Chechen rebel, a member of Sierra Leone’s RUF, a twisted Federal convict, a yakuza and Topher Grace, who is apparently in stranded in this jungle simply for being Topher Grace.  A bit of a loner, Royce reluctantly becomes the leader of the ragtag group of scary people.  They’re all together when they discover that getting out of the jungle isn’t going to be quite as easy as they’d hoped, at least without the help of a passing starship.  They also find they are not alone in this little tropical patch, nor were they the only things thrown out of the sky.  Very strange beasts appear to test the mettle of our group; all but the con and Topher Grace are armed with serious firepower and their first interaction with some out-of-this-world hunting creatures wakes them up very quickly to their predicament.  These incredibly tough characters are now in situation they are unused to; they are prey for some unseen force bigger, stronger and from a whole other planetary system than they.  Their survival depends not only on a whole lot of luck, but on how they will work together as a team to defeat their intergalactic hunters.

Fun stuff, this. It rings completely true to the violent, action-packed Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle that solidified his beefy, bombastic cinematic presence after 1984’s sleeper hit The Terminator made him a household name.  From the first second, the movie runs on adrenalin and doesn’t get bogged down trying to be something it’s not, keeping the whole “We were all murderers and bad guys (- and Topher Grace) and now we’ve gotta stick together and redeem ourselves” jazz to a blessed minimum.  Director Nimród Antal is no nimrod; he knows exactly what the audience wants from this picture and he gives it to them in buckets.  After a nice buildup reminiscent of the original movie, the alien hunters are hinted at and then exposed in all their dreadlocked hunt-happy glory.  They are so driven by their need to track and obliterate things that they’ll even track and eviscerate their own kind.  Predator on predator crime, sweet.  Antal gives us many moments that will remind audiences of the first Predator (- but never of Predator 2, or that awful Alien vs. Predator tripe) and could be seen as a remake of sorts.  The difference is that compared to the steroid-friendly machismo inherent in Arnold’s cast that included Jesse Ventura back when he was still The Body and not the governor, Apollo Creed/Action Jackson himself (themselves?), Carl Weathers and Bill Duke as the smoothest man to ever work a Daisy shaver; Predators’ lineup of badasses are never quite the threat despite their hardcore bonafides, which makes their struggle more desperate.  The breakneck pacing of this picture is measured to pile on the action and keep the audience from thinking too much, which is exactly what’s required in a film like this.  My only downer was the tired representation of the one female in the group having to be the nurturer; Alice Braga plays a freedom fighter with a sniper’s eye who keeps whingeing on at Adrien Brody about sticking together.  Oy. That aside, there’s a lot of humour in the film, both of the gallows type and unintentional:  The orange jumpsuit-clad con relates creepy bon mots about the life that led him to become an FBI target as team bonding material and in his fright of being armed only with a shiv in the midst of all the necessary firepower, reminds us of Bill Paxton’s terrified Marine from Aliens.  Laurence Fishburne in a bit role as a crazy-cuckoo-nuts survivor shows that his appetite hasn’t suffered despite having to hide from the Predators for a decade.   Even with the suspensions of logic necessary for a film like this, the film’s graphic novel accents are easy enough to follow and leaves the door wide open for another hunt.  If that sequel of a sequel is as much escapist summer fun as Predators, I’ll be there, bucketful of popcorn in hand.

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

July 9th, 2010

 

 

 

 

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Photos

(Courtesy of  20th Century Fox Pictures)

 

 

 

 

 

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