PREDATORS

DIRECTOR Nimród Antal

STARRING Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace and Lawrence Fishburn

There was a light when he woke we watch him plummeting to what at first glance looks like earth. Of course his shoot doesn’t open till the last second but anyway he survives the fall only to witness another person drop in then another and another and so on. PREDATORS written and produced by Robert Rodriguiez is one of the few sequels i have seen that turns the original concept into a bigger playground. ALIENS being the last sequel to do it successfully. Rodriguez borrows material from mystery and suspense, crime thrillers like THE USUAL SUSPECTS. But mostly from the original. And it is obvious how much respect he has for the material. It’s as if this is PREDATOR 2: the never before seen version.

The pacing in PREDATORS resembles one of the many elements that make the original such a convincing thriller. The action isn’t hatched from jump street and tossed at you. No it takes awhile to get cooking. I imagine anyone with short nerves will be checking the clock after the first 20 minutes. But for those of you with a little patience and knowledge in topography and tactical assessment you’ll find this rewarding escapism indeed.

There is no “here is the plan” type stuff. In the original movie we are introduced to Dutch and special forces unit is given an assignment then flown in to South America to take care of business a routine conspiracy ensues with a shady CIA heft developing into some hurt egos and burned bridges, this is followed by an unusual set of circumstances masterminded by an unseen intruder. Here the set up is more unknown. We really don’t know who these people are. Fortunately a combative exchange between Royce and Isabelle pries loose  Royce knowledge and expertise in identifying professional killers. which doesn’t tell us a whole lot about them as individuals but instead tells us what they are capable of, and that is the reason they are here because that is all their pursuers are concerned with. Also not knowing is the special sauce in this kinetic thriller. They are not who they were but what they will do next, that is the most important part of this game of death.

Robert Rodriguez should be commended with this sequel which is like a tour of an ancient motif reconfigured in a striking new amalgamation. Everything is where it should be handled by the right man for the job. Gone is the cityscapes and the civilian drama here we are brought into a steroid injected version of PREDATOR 1.5. This is war baby; just do it! This thriller is all about the hunt. Not petty homicide investigations or hunts for missing keys or vacation getaways to Antarctica. Their opponent sets traps and maims to gain a tactical advantage and when he isn’t on screen it’s because he’s deployed some kind of devilish killer to keep his prey occupied. This is truly survival of the fittest and most intelligent. And till the movie really gets going does this one distinguish itself from the pretenders and establishes itself as a brand new variation.

However it should be said Robert Rodriguez’s man crush for the original though seriously admirable could be considered grand larceny or downright theft. Some scenes are so familiar i got a case of deja vu. For instance; a sword fight in a patch is filmed so similarly to Billy’s last stand(minus the fight) it is impossible for hard core fans not to notice.

Battle scenes wise this is pretty good stuff, the tactic employed by the human killers are more provocative because we believe they are who they get paid to be. When Royce blurts out that this is a game preserve, because of his carefully competent and meticulously observant demeanor it works we believe him. However Lawrence Fishburne’s Noland may have rolled snake eyes here. But that is not his fault or his pretend friends. His character was originally written to be Dutch, Arnold Schwarzenegger circa 1990.

Some of the effects draw attention to themselves, a problem that never plagued the original. But lets face it the element of surprise is gone. And no matter how good your sequel is and this is very good mind you, you pretty much know what that thing is standing 10 yards away that looks like a ghost.