If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, John McTiernan, who created the original back in 1987, should feel quite complimented – because there’s not a shred of originality in this sci-fi sequel except, perhaps, the opening scene. It begins with an unconscious man, freefalling from a great height. He awakens mid-air, starts screaming and grabbing for the ripcord on a parachute he didn’t know he had. Now that’s an attention-grabber!
Special Forces operative-turned-mercenary Royce (bulked-up Adrien Brody) seems to be the leader of a motley band of professional killers who have landed with him on what appears to be a terra-formed world where they can breathe the air, drink the water and move about normally. But the sun always stays in the same place and several huge moons hover in the sky. His companions include an Israeli Defense Forces sniper (Alice Braga), a Sierra Leone warrior/warlord (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), the FBI’s most wanted mass murderer (Walton Goggins), a Russian soldier (Oleg Taktarov), a Yakuza hitman (Louis Ozawa Changchien), a Colombian drug cartel enforcer (Danny Trejo) and a mild-mannered doctor (Topher Grace).
“This planet is a game preserve and we are the game,” Royce concludes. Indeed, many predators appear, along with an earlier hunt’s lone survivor (Laurence Fishburne). So the chase is on. Who will die first? Who will stay alive?
Writers Alex Litvak and Michael Finch, working from a story by Robert Rodriguez, replicate the original concept, while Hungarian director Nimrod Antal (“Kontroll,” “Armored”) spends little time on characterization, keeping sinister action moving at a fast pace. Problem is: the “predators” are revealed in too much detail. When there’s an unseen alien menace, it’s far more frightening than to see some of the toothy, dread-locked predators up close, particularly when they resemble monsters from cheesy 1950’s B-movies, like “Creature From the Black Lagoon.”
By the way, did you know that the original “Predator” is the only movie that starred two actors who became Governors? Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Predators” is a frantic 5. Mercy!