Film Review

Predators: Full of Death—and Deadly Boring

Sorta-sequal to alien flick is all action and no glory.

By Matthew Halverson July 9, 2010

Not quite a Hamlet moment: Adrien Brody and Alice Braga in Predators. Photo courtesy Rico Torres/20th Century Fox.

How do you want to die? Peacefully and in your sleep, right? I’d really dig something heroic, but I’ll settle for anything instantaneous and painless. I’ll tell you how I don’t want to die, though: lying facedown on the ground as someone rips my spine—with my skull still attached!—out of my back. That seems like it might actually hurt a little.

Unfortunately, that image is all I really took away from Predators, the Robert Rodriguez–produced sorta-sequel to 1987’s beefcakes-and-the-beast classic, Predator (with absolutely no reference made to 1990’s Predators 2). The high points—of which there are few—come when the action lets up long enough for the characters to consider their predicament: Literally dropped in a jungle on a planet that isn’t their own, eight career killers—mercenaries, soldiers, gangsters, and psychos—quickly realize they’re the prey in an intergalactic hunting expedition. There’s a palpable brand of dread that creeps in when they consider the fact that even if they survive the hunt, they’re still a long way from home, but most of the time, they’re too busy running, yelling, or getting blown up to think about it.

Bad dialogue and hammy performances from two future governors (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura) aside, what made the original so fun was that we didn’t know what was stalking a squad of elite American soldiers through the Guatemalan jungle. This reimagined Predators tries hard to bottle that same magic, but with any mystery surrounding the titular alien long gone, it’s just a rote exercise in watching one human after another get picked off, in increasingly gruesome fashion. As Royce, the de facto leader of the group who kills for a living and quotes Hemingway, Adrien Brody tries his hardest to fit into badass boots, but the best he can come up with is a half-baked impression of Christian Bale’s growly Bat-voice. He would have been better off channeling his ivory-tickling character from The Pianist and setting up a baby grand under one of the alien mangroves—anything to inject a little life into all this death.

Predators opens in theaters nationwide July 9.

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