Predators: Interplanetary Survivor Injects Mystery, Intrigue into Franchise
Raise your hand if someone pushed you out of an aircraft and you awoke grasping for a ripcord?
Guaranteeing an instant rush through the beginning third of its running time, “Predators” re-ignites the franchise with cloaked creatures with giant tin heads and infrared weapons as appendages that are stalking human prey. However, the games begin when you hit the jungle floor. Selected unfortunates like yourself have been chosen for a “Survivor” countdown on a planet whose surface makes up a game reserve.
Those surviving the “jump” range from an assortment of “black ops” and mercenary types to a physician and a dude whisked two days from execution. An analogy occurs later in the film that those chosen selectively represent the “monsters” of Earth.
Brisk jungle introductions give way to strategy after an attack by a herd of leaping rhinos. Dodging physical and psychological traps, this “team” hesitantly joins Royce (Adrien Brody), the self-determined, follow me or fend for yourself leader in a rush to higher grounds that lusciously display daunting Hawaiian vistas. Alice Braga is Isabelle, an Israeli soldier whose fighting abilities and instincts win her an unofficial second in command.
Producer Robert (“Grind House,” “Sin City,” “Machete”) Rodriguez offers a full reversal of the 1987 original in which Arnold Schwarzenegger battled extra terrestrial warriors in the jungles of Central America. The sci-fi thriller ventures effortlesslyinto a darker derelict ship, which, besides some awesome sets, drops subtle remarks about surviving “seasons” in the thicket.
These extraterrestrial fighters have less invincibility than those in the earlier franchise, which allows more one-on-one brutality and one-two teamwork. Still, Rodriguez and director Nimród (“Vacancy,” ”Armored”) Antal keep speech quick and germane, assisted by an assortment of ethnic casting that determines weaponry.
My own fears of a film worse than “Alien v. Predator” evaporated after the ripcord opening and the suspenseful maneuvering of the other worldly safari scenario. The interplanetary foxhunt has diversions, traps and hand-to-hand combat that solidly hold interest even for those non-action fan moviegoers.
Gore (not Al) has its place and green goo doesn’t seem as cringing as the color ‘red.’
Slick and sweet, the inevitable sequel set up occurs without too much distraction as the “Ten Little Indians” premise is executed with better than clichéd results.