Predators Predators

Predators Predators
Let's get the burning question out of the way: yes, Predators is far superior to any of that AVP nonsense. No, it doesn't trump the original in sheer ball-jiggling badassery and tension ― how could it?

However, Nimrod Antal's Robert Rodriguez-produced sci-fi action thriller is at least as good, and to this reviewer's recollection, a fair sight better than Predator 2. Call it the sequel Predator always deserved, or just call it a good time at the movies for genre fans.

Immediately setting a standard for strong pacing, the film opens with Adrien Brody's name-withholding mercenary waking up mid-freefall. A parachute triggered in the nick of time slams him into the dirt of a jungle/forest hybrid without crushing every bone in his body and up pops the title screen. With no muss or fuss, viewers are dropped right into the gory action, along with the assorted selection of elite warriors comprising the makeshift team of Predator game.

The international military is represented, along with the Yakuza, Mexican cartels, African death squads, a death row psycho, Brody's mercenary and Dr. Eric Forman, um, I mean an out of place doctor played by Topher Grace. He's the weakest link in the cast and predictably used mostly as minor comic relief. Adrien Brody, however, is pumped up into a bigger, meaner ass-kicking tactician than you'd believe possible, and he pulls it off with aplomb. Laurence Fishburne is bound to get mixed reviews for his small role, but it's an enjoyable diversion he has a great deal of fun with.

The nods to the first film are tasteful, including wild Gatling gun spraying, infrared Pred-O-Vision and an organic plot point that sensibly establishes continuity while delivering timely exposition. Antal does a bang-up job directing, for the most part, especially where cinematography is concerned; Predators is beautifully shot. There's a killer scene where it looks like they actually jumped off a cliff while holding the camera. Everything done with practical effects is especially effective and the CGI is strong enough, save for one rather dodgy looking explosion.

John Debney delivers a sinister, yet playful, score that strongly references Alan Silvestri's original ― one of many signs that this team are aiming to get this franchise back on its feet by returning to the roots of what makes the concept effective in the first place. And save for one limp minor plot thread and, debatably, an ending that doesn't provide closure, so much as the end of a first act, they succeed beyond expectations. (Fox)