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Archive for July 11th, 2010

Predators

“Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter” Ernest Hemingway – On the Blue Water

Predator 2 (1990) was a great sequel that really lived up to the Arnold Schwarzenegger original (1987). Danny Glover’s LA cop offered a perfect alternative Schwarzenegger’s “Dutch” and only a couple of steps removed from Roger Murtaugh helped make him a likeable hero. And I haven’t even mentioned the legend that is Gary Busey yet! One of the great things about the original was the ambiguity of the predators and their intensions, one of the best things about the sequel is the way it develops the myth further suggesting answers but asking more questions at the same time. But what’s wrong with the sequel? Very simply its not set in the jungle, predators belong in the jungle and that’s what writer/producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimród Antal give us, predators in the jungle.

Based on a script by Rodriguez that dates back to some time between El mariachi (1992) and Desperado (1995) and before the missed opportunity that was the Alien Vs Predator films. Here the film makes reference to the original but not to any of the sequels. Starting with a group of killers being parachuted into an unknown jungle with no knowledge before they woke up in freefall. The group consists of: Adrien Brody, a mercenary and Schwarzenegger’s spiritual successor; Alice Braga, an Israeli sniper; Walton Goggins, (currently recognisable from TV show Justified) an unhinged death row prisoner; Oleg Taktarov as Russian soldier with parallels to Blain (Jesse Ventura) from the original film; Danny Trejo a Mexican mob enforcer; Louis Ozawa Changchien, his Yakuza equivalent; Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as a killer from a Sierra Leone death squad and Topher Grace who appears to be the odd one out.

From here the movie plays out like the original taking its time before revealing the predators, this works on two levels: in the unlikely event this is someone’s first experience of a predator movie it works just like the original; for fans of the original it builds the expectation for the predators until they are finally revealed. Perfectly playing it holding out just long enough but not as long as in the original. When the predators do arrive it is a little predicable but that really isn’t a problem, if a franchise movie wasn’t somewhat predictable.

Making the most of its jungle setting featuring ideas seen before in the franchise including the predators hiding in the trees and the setting of booby traps. Then Laurence Fishburne turns up and in a fantastic role that references Apocalypse Now (1979) (the movie he got his big break in) in more than one way. The best scene in the movie involves Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien) who confronts a predator armed with just a Katana. Not only does the scene reinforce the character development of the predators seen in the first two movies and AVP (the better of the Alien Vs Predator movies), it is also extremely well shot borrowing from movies like Hero (2002). Although failing to offer much originality the movie does enough to satisfy fans and newbie’s alike and sets itself up perfectly for a sequel, and even has scope for a prequel.From a production point of view, I just love the fact that despite the jungle scenes being shot in Hawaii, a lot of the movie was shot in Austin, Texas true to Robert Rodriguez’s origins. Whilst not the Predators to Predator in the same way Aliens was to Alien it is still a worthy sequel (or threequell depending on your point of view) a good film rather than a great one but most importantly in this somewhat lacklustre (so far) summer season it’s a good honest fun action movie. I know its only really worth three stars out of five but I really enjoyed it so:

Four Stars out of Five.

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