(director: Nimrod Antal; screenwriters: Alex Litvak/Michael Finch/based on characters created by Jim Thomas and John Thomas; cinematographer: Gyula Pados; editor: Dan Zimmerman; music: John Debney; cast: Adrien Brody (Royce), Topher Grace (Edwin, doctor), Alice Braga (Isabelle), Walton Goggins (Stans), Oleg Taktarov (Nikolai), Laurence Fishburne (Noland), Mahershalalhashbaz Ali (Mombasa), Louis Ozawa Changchien (Hanzo), Danny Trejo (Cuchillo); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Robert Rodriguez/John Davis/Elizabeth Avellán; 20th Century Fox; 2010)
“If you can’t guess which group members survive, you probably haven’t seen too many of these formulaic predictable action films.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Unimportant sequel to the original Predator (1987), with Adrian Brody as star instead of Schwarzenegger (like, big deal!). This would be the fourth spinoff if you must count the two“Alien vs. Predator”movies and “Predator 2” (1990). It’s an action-packed sci-fi film, set in the unexplored jungle of another planet, in a game preserve, that features monsters, alien Predators, systemically hunting down a group of diverse multiracial human warriors. The bad-assed gruff self-appointed leader of the group is the gravel-voiced ex-special ops mercenary soldier, Royce (Adrien Brody), who clues us in that the plotline can be traced to a Hemingway quote: “There is no hunting like the hunting of men . . . “.
After being dropped onto the game preserve by parachute and wandering around the jungle for awhile in confusion of where they are and what’s up with their situation, Royce tells his seven other mostly heavily armed fellow wonder-struck cold-blooded killers that they ended up on this alien planet to be hunted for sport. This gets the attention of the testy group, consisting of a feisty Israeli lady sniper (Alice Braga), an American death-row psychopath (Walton Groggins) armed only with a knife, a well-dressed Yakuza hit man (Louis Ozawa Changchien), a Mexican drug cartel enforcer (Danny Trejo), an unarmed wimpy disgraced doctor (Topher Grace), a burly Russian Special forces fighter (Oleg Taktarov), and a black death squad soldier from Sierra Leone (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali). Royce further tells them to survive the superior evolved monster hunters, they will all have to make good use of their proven killing skills. Some time after the film’s mid-point, a crazed human survivor (Laurence Fishburne) for the last several years joins the group and invites them to sleep in his humble makeshift home.
If you can’t guess which group members survive, you probably haven’t seen too many of these formulaic predictable action films. The Most Dangerous Game (1932) starred Joel McCrea and Fay Wray and used the same basic plotline as quoted from Hemingway above, and was made into a fairly intelligent thriller–something this pic couldn’t achieve.
Director Nimrod Antal (“Kontroll”/”Armored”/”Vacancy”) channels producer Robert Rodriguez’s excessive violent filming style in his visuals and takes pleasure in showing the group in unique ways getting picked off one at a time by the evolving race of cloaked-in-invisibility extraterrestrial hunters. Antal keeps the action loud, lays on us plenty of special effects and in a workmanlike turn delivers an uninteresting but well-crafted jungle adventure/sci-fi pic. The Hungarian born Antal keeps things serious and humorless (except for the vile character played by Groggins, who tells us if he gets off this planet alive he wants to treat himself to cocaine and rape some women), as if he’s dealing with a story that had gravitas and wasn’t a disposable summer blockbuster B-film that can be viewed as a video game-like treat for the male juvenilia demographic intended and others welcoming with open arms such mindless summer entertainment. It’s based on characters created by Jim Thomas and John Thomas, and is written for an undemanding mass audience by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch.
REVIEWED ON 7/9/2010 GRADE: C