Both remake of and sequel to the 1987 “Predator,” the new Robert Rodriguez production “Predators” manages to knock a little life into a road-weary franchise.
Although Rodriguez did not direct “Predators,” his basic approach (which includes the idea that if you make an action picture, it ought to be fun) is much on display. This movie about hunting is directed by Nimrod Antal, who made the intense Hungarian film “Control” a few years ago.
The movie begins with its central character waking up in a mid-air freefall without his parachute open. Nice. Landing safely (and loaded with weapons), this unnamed Black Ops guy (played by a buff Adrien Brody) realizes that other miscreants are being dropped in the same vicinity.
These include a tough Central American fighter (Alice Braga, from “I Am Legend”), a Russian mercenary (Oleg Taktarov), a Death Row con (Walter Goggins, of “The Shield”) and assorted baddies. Only a mild-mannered doctor (Topher Grace) stands out in this filthy crew.
For a while the movie coasts on a “Lost” vibe, as the wanderers debate why they’ve been dropped into this jungle. Could this be hell? But as they discover torn-up corpses and signs of alien life, they figure out they’re in for a variation on “The Most Dangerous Game”: Somebody wants to hunt them.
Maybe I was just in the mood for a simple, straightforward action flick, because this nonsense went down perfectly easily for me. The strangers roam around the jungle, stumble across a nonalien survivor of an earlier hunting season and fend off fearsome tusked dogs as we all await the arrival of those tall, dreadlocked fiends known as predators.
Brody’s counter-intuitive casting works, and pungent supporting roles go to Danny Trejo, a Robert Rodriguez regular, and Lawrence Fishburne, who’s not part of the original crew but who makes the most of his whispering cameo role.
At some point I lost track of which predator was which (there’s some sort of hierarchy in this jungle), and what the meaning of various rites and totems was. But let’s face it, the basics are easy to grasp: Run away from the predators, unless you find yourself with an old samurai sword or a newly discovered cache of grenades handy.
It doesn’t sound like much, but the premise can be flubbed (see “Predator 2”), so I’ll take this energetic rumble in the jungle. And if the ending can be believed, I’ll probably take the sequel, too.
A sequel for the “Predator” series, sticking closely to the formula of the original movie: Fighters and miscreants are dropped in the jungle and forced to elude the alien predators that live there. Some offbeat casting (Adrien Brody and Alice Braga) helps this energetic action picture, which sticks to the basics and gets the job done.
Rated: R for violence, language
Showing: Alderwood, Cinebarre Mountlake Terrace, Galaxy Monroe, Cinerama, Metro, Pacific Place, Woodinville