I had apologized earlier about practically refusing to acknowledge the summer blockbuster season. I take it back. There is a reason I do; the films are amongst the lowest of the low that offer absolutely no stimulation of the imagination whatsoever. Lights flicker, things blow up, swears are yelled, and everyone goes home happy. I am meanwhile left staring at the screen, wondering why all this money was wasted making and, what’s worse, why the audience wasted their money on it.
I had forgotten this fact before I watched Predators. Now, I remember all to well. It is not that Predators is aggressively awful. It is merely a symbol; a symbol of all that is wrong with the typical summer film.
The film takes place on a different planet, apparently covered entirely in dense jungle. Whether or not this is the Predator’s home world is left ambiguous. Despite its jungle, the planet has four large bodies located very close to it and rotates incredibly slowly. You think this would affect the gravity and the plant life, but no. On this planet, a group of humans from around the world wake up. They are Royce (Adrien Brody) who is a mercenary, Edwin (Topher Grace) a doctor, Isabelle (Alice Braga) another soldier, Nikolai (Oleg Takartov) a Russian soldier, Stans (Walton Goggins) a convicted murderer who wears a prison jump suit, Cuchillo (Danny Trejo) an enforcer for a drug cartel, Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali) who is part of a Sierra Leone death squad, and Hanza (Louis Ozawa Changchien) who is in the Yakuza. That’s about all you need to know; certainly that is all the actors knew. They figure out fairly quickly that they are being hunted for sport and try to escape the planet. Also Laurence Fishburne shows up in the second act to play insane.
The fact that that synopsis is so short demonstrates part of the problem. The film clocks in at 106 minutes, but I pretty much described everything in two sentences. Oh sure, there are some late third act twists (that shouldn’t be that surprising and don’t have much of a pay off) but it feels like a delay in the inevitable; that is, lights flickering, things getting blown up, etc. The problem is that this mentality carried over to the set. No one acts as though they care.
Certainly not the actors. Adrien Brody tries to spend the entire film speaking in that Christian Bale Batman voice. Everyone else merely acts confused, or is if they have had their brains replaced by pure testosterone. They are all crass (direct quote: “So if it’s five o’clock, does that mean its bitch rape time?” Shockingly, THIS was being played for laughs), dirty, foul, and have no human attributes whatsoever. And I am supposed to care if they live or die? Well, I found myself hoping that their skulls would make nice trophies and felt cheated every frame that the Predators did not find them. Only one actor looks like he’s having any fun; Laurence Fishburne. He plays the role as a sort of Orson Welles crossed with Klaus Kasinski – so hopelessly detached from the world that it is incredible to watch him function. Is it cheesy? Yes, but I found myself wanting more of that. It injected something into the movie.
Plus Laurence Fishburne’s scenes were a set up to the greatest segments of the movie. They take place in a crashed, dilapidated space ship and wonderfully atmospheric, claustrophobic, and overall very good. They are also about ten minutes. After that, the director is back to just setting up the camera and walking back to the food table while the actors yell. It’s not that the rest of the film is poorly directed, poorly edited, poorly scored, poorly lit, or poorly anything. It is all just so run of the mill that it is barely noticeable. The soundtrack clashes, the cinematography looks like they are in a jungle (just any jungle on this planet or any other) and the editing is meant to convey a sense of motion but never really shows it.
Speaking of lack of thought, I wanted to know a lot more about the Predators themselves. They are a race that have mastered intergalactic travel and a variety of other amazing technology with which to hunt. Yet do we learn anything about their society? Do we learn about their hierarchy? Nope – they exist to be villains, and that is all. I was left wanting to know why – and never got my answer.
I do not recommend this movie for everyone. I do not recommend this for most. I basically recommend it for those who have not received their GED yet, or who cannot live a day without seeing an explosion. I am sure you will not notice the film’s many flaws.