Louis Ozawa Changchien
Trivia There's a tonne of trivia over on IMDB. Check it out here.
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13th Aug 10
A group of the Earth's best killers suddenly find themselves on an alien jungle world, and this time they're the prey.
Predators opens with Adrian Brody in freefall, hurting towards the ground, fast asleep. He wakes, frantically battles to get his parachute open and lands right next to Danny Trejo, and the guns are pulled straight away. Behind them Alice Braga from City of God and I am Legend is right there pointing a sniper rifle right at them, and through the bushes they hear America's Most Wanted wrestling with a guerrilla from Sierra Leone. Then a Cheynian rebel opens up with a mini-gun (nice nod to the first film) and before you know it everyone's pointing guns at each other.
Of course, it doesn't take them long to figure out what's happening, mainly because of Brody's quick thinking survivalist character. Higher ground, his training tells him, whereas Braga's character believes strength in numbers is the way to go, so they all stick together, picking up a couple of other stragglers on the way.
I'm not sure whether they ever got to higher ground, but what you do get now is a lot of wandering about, looking at this strange jungle they're in, and chatting amongst themselves to promote a bit of character development. And this is where Predators does well, if you can accept your character development with liberal topings of 80s action movie cheese. You know the kind of thing - one character advises another not to touch a poisonous plant, so they become mates. The convict mouths off about doing coke and what he'd like to do to ladies once he gets back, Brody refuses to give out his name, and everyone waxes lyrical about why they're here, gives clues as to what they used to do, etc. Except the barefooted yakuza guy, who doesn't say very much at all. Then a bunch of alien dogs attack, and the action begins.
To say that Predators has high expectations is a bit of an understatement - most if not all Predator fans have been disappointed with the merger of this and the Alien franchise with the Alien Vs Predator movies (which limped along, strange considering how good the original comic series was), so it's good to note that the both franchises are heading back to their roots (with Ridley Scott picking up the next Alien film, a prequel to the '79 original apparently). And when you watch Predators I'm pleased to report that memories of the AvP movies drift away very quickly. In fact, while watching this film you'll be constantly reminded of Predator and Predator 2, and that, in itself, is a mixed blessing.
You could argue that Predators has no originality in it at all. It lifts the plot of Predator but puts it on another planet. It's a jungle. Everyone has special weapons unique to them. The get picked off one by one. One guy decides to take a predator on with a melee weapon and the ending involves covering up in head to toe with mud because, you know, that confuses the predators' heat vision somehow. And there's even the same nod to Predator that Predator 2 had, with one character recounting the tale of Dutch's mission. All we really needed to complete the plagurism is for Adrien Brody to turn around and say "If it bleeds, we can kill it..." in that ridiculously gruff voice of his.
Oh yes, we have to mention Brody's performance. It appears that when you get a lead in a major action movie you have to work out like a bitch to look a bit more buff and you have to talk in a very deep, almost laughable, gruff voice, to the point wher eyou can't help but snigger every time he opens his mouth. Tough? Hmm, not really, more a bit silly. But apart from the voice, his performance is not at all bad and he adapts to playing the cheesy reluctant action hero pretty well, although it's hard to be surprised - compared to some of the performances he's put in through his career I can't see this role challenging him.
The rest of the cast fair well too. Alice Braga, while too pretty to be a hardened jungle veteran, is convincing, the innocent looking doctor holds his own well and ever Danny Trejo is entertaining, although he doesn't really get a lot of time to flex his acting muscles this time around. And Lawrence Fishburne is, well, Lawrence Fishburn - I can never decide whether that guy is one of the greatest actors of his generation or whether he's taking us all for a ride, and he's the same here.
So what Predators does well, Predators does well. The action sequences are exciting, even if they are pretty much lifted from the other Predator movies, and it's great to see a bunch of predators running around fighting as a group with no aliens in sight. The pacing is okay, the SFX are not surprisingly excellent and the ending is pretty much the only sensible ending you could predict - not the silly mud assisted predator fight, that's slightly unbelieveable, it's the bit after that I'm talking about. In fact, despite the fact that the movie struggles for an original idea and the plot sounds like it was conceived over a Hollywood lunch somewhere, Predators is a lot of fun, and more importantly, could have been a lot worse.