Here’s to director Nimrod Antal, who since coming to Hollywood has managed to not only overcome an unfortunate name but also at least two unpromising movie assignments.
First there was Vacancy, about a squabbling couple at a creepy motel, which he turned into a queasy grind-house movie that was heavy on atmospheric suspense. Now he accepts the challenge of the Predator franchise – which began with the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger muscle fest – and emerges with Predators, an entertainingly outré monster movie that makes this sort of dialogue work: “I’ve never seen this jungle. And I’ve seen most.”
The soldier who says that (Alice Braga) is confused because this installment takes place on the alien predators’ planet. Along with a bunch of other mercenaries, she has been dumped here (literally – the movie opens with people falling from the sky) to serve as game. The hunters have become the hunted, and all of that.
Thankfully, Predators mostly dispenses with the clumsy moralizing of the original, where there were “good” soldiers of fortune and “bad.” Instead, it simply gets on with the action, throwing in alien dogs and two different classes of predators for good measure.
The cast is another plus, from Adrien Brody as the unlikely team leader to Topher Grace as a prissy doctor to Laurence Fishburne, whose cameo as an unhinged, longtime survivor saves the film from the third-act doldrums. When the mercenaries ask him who he is, Fishburne growls, “I’m alive.” So – against all odds – is the movie.