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It should, but it doesn’t. The film’s story is straightforward. Eight human beings have been transported to a planet that the Predators use as hunting grounds. Collectively, they take down those transported people and other worlds’ creatures. Amongst themselves, though, the top tier Predators also go after the bottom tier ones. In order of appearance, the film introduces:
1. Adrien Brody’s character, a mercenary.
2. Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), a cartel enforcer.
4. Alice Braga’s character, also from a military background.
7. Edwin (Topher Grace), a doctor.
Scenes of action, stillness, and conversation are balanced in Predators but the pulse of the spectacle is lost under all the talking. That is, if you’ve moved on from Adrien Brody’s egocentric entrance–a close-up of him falling through the air struggling to get his parachute open; when he lands, the film title fills the screen. If you’re still stuck on why in Odin’s name would Brody be cast, perhaps you won’t notice that whatever suspense is created and sustained from sequence to sequence is done so because the characters have articulated their intentions and you want to know if the plan will work.
As with AVP-R, Predators doesn’t feature the Predator creature on screen often enough. Leaving the monster unseen is fine until the first character dies (or if one is making a psychological ghostly horror film). There are three different Predator characters in the film, none of them got the screen time they deserved. A medium close-up where they disable their invisibility function does not count.
Major spoilers ahead, highlight relevant phrases at your own discretion. I’m not sure my issues with the plot would count as holes, but they need to be addressed. After discovering what might become of them, the mostly intact group finds the Predators camp. The classic Predator, sans mask, is chained against a structure. Nikolai gets too close, wakes it up, which signals the Falconer and Berzerker Predators to attack. Mombasa doesn’t survive. The group escapes and Alice Braga gives Adrien Brody a tongue lashing for leading them to that camp and essentially using them as bait. Brody doesn’t flinch. He justifies his decision by remarking that they now know the likeness and number of their hunters. Brody confronts Braga about her reaction upon seeing the restrained Predator; she confesses that she knows about the Guatemala incident involving the Predator creatures. Shortly thereafter, they meet Noland (Laurence Fishburne), who has survived 10 seasons of the hunts. He gives them more intel but then tries to smoke them to death so he won’t have to house them in an enormous drill he uses as shelter. The group has shrunk down to three in time for the last sequence of the film. Hanzo and Stans both died selflessly.
Brody heads back to the camp to free the classic Predator–the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I could overlook the disappointing fight choreography, I could hypothesize a reason for diminished gore, and then the film has to take a turn for the plain ‘ol dumb. Brody approaches the Predator and talks to it in slow, moderately loud English. If you’re reading this entry and have seen Predators, you might call my attention to the “dog” attack scene where Cuchillo becomes the first casualty. The Predators clearly understood enough English to use “help me” to lure the group into a trap. One could also argue that any other phrase could’ve been used merely to get the group’s attention. Garbled noises would’ve been effective too. Moaning. Why not go with Brody betting on the classic Predator’s ability to read body language and expressions?
Furthermore, why couldn’t the film have featured this particular Predator more? Why couldn’t he have offended a superior Predator and as punishment be sent to the planet, where he would have to duke it out with those other animals as well as the humans? Too much special effects?
There’s an even dumber plot point involving Edwin. He may or may not really have been a doctor on earth, but he admits to being a serial killer. He incapacitates Braga. Oh no! Is Brody going to find out in time to save her? Oh no! Did he just die when the Bezerker Predator detonated the classic Predator’s space craft?
The audience doesn’t learn the names of the only two survivors until the end. The movie leaves indisputable room for a sequel.
As I walked to my car after the movie ended, I wondered how much shorter the film would be if Alice of Resident Evil were put into the mix.
Audience demographics: 5:05 showing. Room 40% filled. I believe I was one of three females watching the film. Average age: 25. Ethnically varied, but not a total tossed salad.
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