thu 30/05/2024

Predators | reviews, news & interviews



Arnie's old stomping ground revisited

I'll be back: Adrien Brody visits Schwarzeneggerland in 'Predators'

The original Predator from 1987 is perhaps best remembered for taking Schwarzenegger’s borderline homoerotic body-fetishism to new heights, as he stripped naked to mud-wrestle the titular alien hunter. It was among the more efficient of the big, dumb action movies which defined Arnie in the Eighties.

But for this fourth sequel, Sin City director Robert Rodriguez, producing here, has convinced himself he is returning to a rich, iconic mythos, and lured a cast led by Oscar-winner Adrien Brody to prove it.

Predator benefitted from the post-Star Wars trend for science-fiction movies to have their story expanded in other media, in this case the Dark Horse company’s Aliens vs Predators comics, which used the latter’s m.o. as the universe’s ultimate hunters to pit them against Ridley Scott’s Aliens, in a monster mash-up which formed the source of the last two sequels. A comic-book prequel to Predators, giving detailed back stories to its anonymous characters, has already been published. But as befits an enemy of Arnie, the concept resists enrichment: they’re predators, they like killing things. And that’s it.

Rodriguez, whose 1994 script is reworked by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch here, returns to the platoon movie concept of the original, bringing a disparate bunch of killers together to fight their way through a Predators-infested jungle. The amorally distant, hunted look that Adrien Brody has brought to roles from The Pianist to Hollywoodland suits this lighter assignment as US black ops mercenary Royce. As he’s the default leader of a team including a yakuza, an Israeli sniper, a Mexican drug-gangster, a Sierra Leonean death-squad member, a Russian veteran of the Chechen front and a serial killer, the idea is broached that “we’re monsters in our own world”, not deserving to return. Hemingway is cringingly quoted (“There is no hunting like the hunting of a man” is the worst among lines of dialogue which regularly drop clanging to the floor).

But such themes are window-dressing for meaty scenes such as the Planet of the Apes-reversing moment when they see moons looming far too close, and realise they’ve been dropped onto the Predators’ hunting planet, or the first time they meet a Predator in its charnel-house lair. Its queasily gummy square mouth of teeth has a primal touch of vagina dentata, without managing to combine male and female genitalia like HR Giger’s design for the Alien head. With machine-gun-equipped body armour and an invisibility they whimsically toss aside when the script requires a human to kill them, these are frankly average monsters.

But Nimród Antal directs the eventual battle royal with streamlined energy, and finds room for genuinely memorable passages. Laurence Fishburne does his best work in years as a paranoid loner who’s survived on this Predators’ planet. And when a yakuza recovers a samurai sword left from some centuries-old hunt, and duels at night with a blade-handed Predator in long blowing grass, where the creature’s bright-green blood eventually pools, the beauty is from quite another movie. This one, though, is a half-decent, half-dumb action flick, where Arnie would feel very much at home.

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Its queasily gummy square mouth of teeth has a primal touch of vagina dentata

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