Just to clear the air, this film is not a reboot or a remake of Predator and its associated follow ups. Rather, it is an able complement to the established mythos, adding its own two cents worth to an expanding franchise, even though it chose to ignore the crossover hybrids with the Versus Aliens films, and connects itself directly to the first Predator film by John McTiernan starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Produced by Roger Rodriguez and directed by Nimrod Antal who did films like Kontroll, Vacancy and Armored, Predators clearly met its objectives it set out to achieve without flashy fanfare, with Antal providing assured direction in the many set action pieces that don't rely on the hair-tearing quick MTV-styled cuts so just to let you know everything's kinetic and hyper. Some scenes will also get your eyebrows raised at how gory and violent this installment can get, with in-your-face dismemberment, and even one which shows how cruelly wicked the Predator can be with a move that closely resembles a "finish him" from Mortal Kombat.
The story is kept simple with one primary plot, and that is to witness how a band of para-military personnel get to outwit and outlast the Predators as they learn that they're prey and game for the alien beings, which are armed to the teeth in advanced weaponry, armour and various sensors like infra-red, with electromagnetic pulses ready to discharge and wreck havoc on human rifles. It's not a fair fight, especially when it comes to the famed cloaking camouflage that gives the Predators an advantage.
But hey, who says hunting sport has to be fair anyway? In fact, this film only serves to cement the franchise plot point of having as many characters as possible to add to body count, and we're almost unlikely to hope for anyone to emerge unscathed when faced with such odds. But well, Schwarzenegger's character did it in the first film through a simple battle strategy, so perhaps this group of rag-tags have some of the same luck as well. Given the Predator's penchant to play with their game, don't expect instant blood and gore as a few teasers have to be in place, before the first death occurs (well, death to an unidentifiable actor, is no count)
Leading the team is Adrien Brody's reluctant soldier of fortune, who decides early on that while he's a member of the human tribe, he's not going to forge any emotional bonds with anyone, being quite dogged and determined to leave the gaming planet alive. This of course irks Isabelle (Alice Braga) the female soldier from Israel who holds a few secrets of her own, and others from the likes of Chechnyan soldier Nicolai (Oleg Taktarov) to the odd one out in Doctor Edwin (Topher Grace), given the rest have tasted real life action in the killing fields, now brought through alien abduction to a planet whose atmosphere is almost identical to Earth, for a game of survival skills.
The story also allows time to dwell on moral dilemma and ethical issues that fighters face in combat, with the strategies employed by the Predators seem to have come out of familiar theatres of war and rules of engagement, where traps are set not to kill but to maim, and fellow survivors forced to make hard decisions as to saving their new found compatriots, or whether it's all man for himself. While offering no surprise twists, with the A-list cast here you can bet that they are all roles which offer a slight challenge, and to see how what we have assumed is the rabbit of the group, able to flip the other way round gradually to reveal some violent, inner ambition.
One of the selling points here is of course watching Adrien Brody play the brooding action hero complete with bulging biceps and washboard stomach. The lack of young, emerging alpha-males in the action genre has somehow led to dramatic actors such as Jake Gyllenhaal and now Brody to hit the gym to buff up for films that require the baring of torso, to make the characters they play more believable, since they are soldiers of sorts hell bent on saving the day. Laurence Fishburne did what he could with his limited appearance in becoming the oracle that is to educate everyone on what conditions are like on the unnamed planet.
But one thing that will be missed, is those frequent POVs as seen through the Predator's eyes and hi-tech helmet. The filmmakers seem to want to steer clear of this since it doesn't offer anything new, but I always thought it was cool to adopt the Predator's first perspective. That aside, Predators delivered when it mattered, even though the story seemed like a shade of the original, and the aliens aren't really using the entire plethora of weapons available to them. One can continuously make the Predator films since this one opened doors, and it'll be interesting to see how others apply their take on the mythos now.