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movies / July 13, 2010

PREDATORS-articleLarge

I found Predators to be amusing as hell, but then, I was in just the right mood for it. I’d had one of those brain-melting work weeks when you do nothing but talk to people, prepare to talk to people, and talk to people some more. At the end of it you either want to sit in a dark, silent room staring at the opposite wall, or you want to see a violent action film showing many people killed. People who talk, that is. First they talk, then they’re horribly, gruesomely slain.

And that’s Predators all over, my friend. The hero is the guy who talks the least. As it should be!

Well, admittedly, the guy I’m calling the hero isn’t technically the lead character, Royce, played by Adrian Brody with commendable intensity and muscle. Brody’s character is only the second-least talkative guy. The least talkative guy is the yakuza played by Louis Ozawa Changchien. At first you think he’s silent because he can’t speak English with the other English-speakers, but later it turns out he’s silent because he’s learned a thing or two about life.

The yakuza is dropped into an impenetrable jungle wearing a natty suit meant for cutting a swath in downtown Tokyo, and it’s very endearing to see him stand there with quiet dignity in the dense foliage, assessing his desperate situation. The movie starts off by dropping our leads into this jungle. In fact, kudos to the filmmakers for the opening scene, which is Adrian Brody plummeting through the air, waking up in freefall, and howling in terror as he tries to open his parachute. Nice!

Not everybody recovers consciousness in time to open his or her parachute, see. The new arrivals that survive the fall naturally go into red-alert mode and starts reaching for any weapons they might have on them. A lot of shooting and shouting ensues before they sort out the fact that they’ve all been mysteriously planted there by unknown aggressors for unknown purposes, and that they’d better try to cooperate if they hope to escape.

We’re way ahead of them, of course, because we’ve seen the first Predator—blessings be upon it!—plus we know about The Most Dangerous Game and its many film adaptations. That’s the one about humans as the Most Dangerous Game, hunted by other humans who’ve set up a game preserve for that purpose. It’s all very allegorical, or something.

Anyhoo, that means the evolutionarily superior aliens from Predator, with their double-set of fangs and weird four-pointed jaws and dreadlocks and amazing camouflage abilities and advanced weaponry and heat-seeking night vision and all that, are hunting our multiculturally diverse cast of human badasses.

500x_predat

There’s Danny Trejo as a Mexican drug cartel enforcer, Walter Goggins as a pathological serial killer, Adrian Brody as a mercenary, Oleg Taktarov as a Russian soldier, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as a death squad goon from Sierra Leone, and token female Alice Braga as an Israeli army sniper.

Topher Grace plays the weenie American doctor, the only character that doesn’t seem to fit the scenario, so you can start guessing where that plot strand is headed.

And Laurence Fishburne turns up eventually as one of those total nut-job scavenger types who always seem to have tremendous survival skills though you wouldn’t think it to look at them. Fishburne’s got a serious potbelly, suggesting he must be really good at scavenging. Boy, does he ham it up!

You can guess who’s going to live to fight another day in any sequels that might be forthcoming, because the characters will be picked off by the aliens one by one in formulaic order. This is an exuberant B-movie; it’s not trying to be innovative. Producer Robert Rodriguez has his heart in the right place when it comes to his efforts to keep lively genre films cranking out on our screens.

Of course, some of these genre film clichés and stereotypes are lamentable (woe unto the darker-skinned, for ye shall perish first!) but some I wouldn’t part with for the world. There’s a point when the yakuza happens to find a samurai sword in the jungle—apparently the aliens have been hunting humans for centuries and all that guff—so you know what beautiful death he’s going to choose, and he does, in a gorgeous field of waving grass, and it’s terrific. Director Nimrod Antal—yes, that IS his name, you wanna make something of it?—has clearly seen a lot of films and isn’t the least bit shy about ripping them off. In a few of the slower scenes you can entertain yourself counting up the cinematic allusions.

Most amusing scenes: the serial killer realizes he only has his prison shank to defend himself, and throws a petulant tantrum when nobody will share a gun with him; Fishburne’s nut-job scavenger talks to his imaginary friend; Adrian Brody quotes Ernest Hemingway on the joys of killing humans; Adrian Brody first reveals his incredibly ripped arms, then goes shirtless to show off the matching torso.

I was kind of surprised he didn’t do the Full Schwarzenegger and go nude to his ultimate primal battle with the alien, but maybe that would’ve been taking anatomical display too far. Schwarzenegger didn’t really look human in his Predator days, which was perfect for 1980s action film.

schwarznegger_predator

The least amusing scenes involve the female character having to carry the burden of femaleness, i.e., having to care about people, and harp about it at the least convenient times. You know somebody’s got to do it in these kinds of films, and if there’s a woman or a girl, she’s automatically stuck with it. If there’s no female, the nominal hero himself usually has to deal with it, far more grudgingly. You know the type of sequence: when somebody’s horribly wounded in a chase scene, for example, do you drag them along, leave them behind, or shoot them and put them out of their misery before running like hell? When it’s an all-male action film, there’s some serious tension around these questions, because it will involve a real moral test. But when there’s a female there, it becomes strictly a gender issue; she’ll want to drag the wounded along purely because she’s a girl.

Some stereotypes are tough to amend.

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27 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. Geoduck  |  July 13th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    That’s maybe a half-accurate description of the original Most Dangerous Game. It’s worth taking a few minutes and reading, if you haven’t done so before..
    http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/danger.html

  • 2. Pascual Gorostieta  |  July 13th, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    To me it was what it was. In entertaining movie and not much else. Nothing to exiting and I didn’t feel like I wasted my money. I loved the many homages to the first Predator.

    My main nitpick was the Doctor. Yeah he was a murderer at the end but he was still a pussy. I mean killing people as a doctor isn’t to tough. If you ask me the Predators who head the Interplanetary draft for sending bad asses to that planet really set the bar low with that dude. Hell, they might as well have picked a kid who was good at video games.

  • 3. rich arp  |  July 13th, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Haha ie’s a comment on the New Improved Internet, anyone notice the bandwidth rationing, the increased PC’ness, the killing off, effectively of the talkative? The movie doesn’t have to be good, just has to send a message.

  • 4. ABC123  |  July 13th, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Am I a Swede eurofag? What else could I possibly be.

  • 5. bill  |  July 13th, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Wow fucking spoiler alert Pascual.

  • 6. platitudes  |  July 13th, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Nice review. The only aspect that disappointed me was the lame one-liners from the serial killer, he’s much more entertaining playing the same criminal hick in Justified.

    I want to see Eileen take on It’s Always Sunny. Show’s got to be got, Klosterman-style.

  • 7. Allen  |  July 13th, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    The Predators kind of missed the boat on most dangerous prey thing it would seem; I mean half those guys have got to be lamentably useless in the jungle. I mean their most dangerous thing is total hype. The only thing that really makes humans dangerous to other humans in most cases is simply the willingness and motive to kill others and the means… and maybe the opportunity to get away with it so they can do it again.

    That doesn’t make the cartel enforcer a soldier or survivalist. A more interesting pray would be an actual special forces squad specialized for Jungle warfare … hey, maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger could be in it …

  • 8. FrankMcG  |  July 13th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Predator just isn’t Predator without the gay overtones.

    A beefy all male unit who love to bare their biceps fly into the sweaty jungle.

    The first thing they do when they land is bare their biceps at each other and have impromptu arm wrestling, struggling not to start kissing.

    Things go great. The boys take out their closeted aggression by killing lots of people. Everything goes wrong though and they get upset when a WOMAN shows up.

    The first man to die is the married one who makes a lot of pussy jokes. He is slaughtered when he lets a pretty woman distract him.

    The Predator isn’t interested in women. He is on a MAN hunt.

    The boys try to kill the Predator by baring their biceps at him. Jesse Ventura is killed, sending his lover Mac into a rage.

    Arnold must oil up for the final showdown.

    The Predator takes his mask off and turns out to be a vagina with claws! The gay super unit’s greatest enemy!

    Luckily Arnold manages to kill the Predator with the sheer power of his massive wooden log.

  • 9. CapnMarvel  |  July 14th, 2010 at 4:25 am

    Haha! Someone’s been reading their Ruthless Reviews – well played, sir!

    I’m not even sure I saw the original Predator all the way through. I suppose I’ll end up watching this one at some time.

    Now, if only we can get a gnarly reboot of the Evil Dead franchise going….

  • 10. Whoopdy Do  |  July 14th, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Here’s another good update on the Most Dangerous Game theme. 5 stars at Amazon.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0741429497

  • 11. Fischbyne  |  July 14th, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Actually, Pascual, your idea of adding a character who is a young video game master is a good one. Some rich fuck in Hollywood should rip that off.

  • 12. senorpogo  |  July 14th, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Hunting is easy, peace keeping is hard.

    Next movie the Predators do some nation building.

  • 13. Magadan Bob  |  July 14th, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Eight (8) film reviews by Jones on the exiledonline.com home page? Whatever became of the old eXile kiddiekorps?

    http://www.jokerdesigns.com/thehunted/music-audio/pred1/dutch-bleeds.mp3

  • 14. X  |  July 15th, 2010 at 3:21 am

    Senorpogo,

    peace keeping is probably easier if you’re willing to kill everyone. I suspect it wouldn’t be too hard for the Predators.

  • 15. ABC123  |  July 16th, 2010 at 5:14 am

    How lame to change my post.

  • 16. CB  |  July 16th, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    The Predator takes his mask off and turns out to be a vagina with claws! The gay super unit’s greatest enemy!

    Haha!

    FrankMcG, expect a trophy in the mail, because you won the Internet with that post.

  • 17. Andre in L.A.  |  July 17th, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Good review. My favorite character was indeed the Yakuza. He reminded me of a dignified, and equally reticent Pashtun I knew in the late 1980’s, an Afghan ex-pat. We were in Oakland CA, about 2:00 AM, on a late coke run. A yuppie had just been dragged out of his Beemer up the street, and was getting his ass ground into the asphalt. My Pashtun friend, dressed in a natty Le Continental suit, walks up to these ghetto predators (still kicking the yuppie as they demanded his car keys) and calmly asks if they would sell him a rock. The indifference of the Yakuza to danger reminded me of Noor and his countrymen – indomitable when on a mission.

  • 18. Some Guy  |  July 18th, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Listen, your Greatest American report should include Amy Goodman who Founded & Maintains Democracy Now.

  • 19. my_lawyer  |  July 18th, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Sorry dude, after you burned me with yer District 9 review, I’m not shelling out for theater tickets no matter how good you make it sound!! Well… Gosh, it does sound tempting. A yakuza hari kari, with Predators in hot pursuit? All right, I’ll go. Ain’t got nothing to do this afternoon anyhow.

  • 20. A Person  |  July 19th, 2010 at 3:25 am

    Eileen, when’ll you review Despicable Me? It’s got Russell Brand in it!

  • 21. Some Guy  |  July 19th, 2010 at 4:57 am

    How about reviewing Despicable Me Eileen?

    Yer old boy Russell Brand is innit.

  • 22. arrowrod  |  July 19th, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    A few “holes” in the script could have been exploited.

    The “scavenger”, had Predator technology, which the merry band of “super soldiers” ignored.

    This must be a “Hollywood” scriptwriter thing. Protagonist finds weapon, uses it, throws it down, continues. Whoops, needs it again, doesn’t have it.

  • 23. RecoverylessRecovery  |  July 20th, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    “This must be a “Hollywood” scriptwriter thing. Protagonist finds weapon, uses it, throws it down, continues. Whoops, needs it again, doesn’t have it.”

    Nah, it just reflects the natural way in which Americans do EVERYTHING, including politics.

    Doubt my words? Check it out;

    President finds country, abuses it, throws it down, continues. Whoops, needs it again, doesn’t have it anymore.

    So fuck him.

  • 24. Learning  |  July 20th, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Really hoping Ms. Jones will come through with a review of Inception. Seriously, her and the Rotten Tomatoes show are about the only movie critics worth a damn.

  • 25. Ozinator  |  July 22nd, 2010 at 4:48 am

    Pascual,

    I didn’t see the film and don’t doubt the Doctor is a pussy needing replacement by a video game playing kid but I’d vote for the Israeli sniper needing to be replaced by a nanny who strangles babies…at least the nanny isn’t afraid of wet work when it comes to killing children

  • 26. Saoirsí  |  July 24th, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Please, please – what we are all wondering about is the hardware porn:
    AA-12 automatic 12 Gauge shotgun, fitted with a drum magazine loaded with Frag-12 rounds, accompanied by a Surefire M900 weaponlight foregrip, and custom camo paint;
    M134 Hand held Minigun;
    Blaser R93 Sniper Rifle fitted with an Elcan DigitalHunter scope (what a sexy bitch! The girls isn’t bad either… wokka wokka wokka!);
    AKMS, stamped steel receiver w/ slant muzzle brake and under-folding stock;
    Heckler & Koch MP5K (Note the leather covers on the foregrips);
    Heckler & Koch HK45 with Compensator;
    Beretta 92FS Inox with custom grips and a compensator;
    Tokarev TT-33;
    Mk 2 hand grenade;
    M18A1 Claymore;
    CAR-15, S&W M29 .44 Magnum and an unknown shotgun;

    http://www.imfdb.org/index.php/Predators

    Yes! There’s and entire website devoted to this stuff now!

  • 27. yoni levy  |  August 24th, 2010 at 6:58 am

    “Eight (8) film reviews by Jones on the exiledonline.com home page? Whatever became of the old eXile kiddiekorps? ”

    you can find in this comment so piece of true.


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