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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo
DIRECTED BY
Nimrod Antal
SCREENPLAY
Alex Litvak, Michael Finch
MPAA RATING
Rated R
RUNNING TIME
106 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
20th Century Fox
 "Predators" Review 
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On a certain level, doesn't Adrien Brody remind you of Cuba Gooding, Jr.?

Bear with me for a minute. I know it seems like a weird comparison, but both actors have followed up Oscar wins with extraordinarily oddball cinematic choices more worthy of a C-list actor than an Academy Award winning performer.

Okay, sure. There's no denying that Gooding's career has taken a far greater nosedive following his award-winning turn in Jerry Maguire.

Seriously. Gooding once seemed like a promising, up-and-coming actor before the likes of Snow Dogs, Daddy Day Camp, Radio and the abominable Boat Trip.

Brody's downfall hasn't been quite as devastating, but it's hard to not question the career choices of an actor who took home the golden statuette for The Pianist and who has followed up that award-winning performance with films such as The Jacket, The Village and now Predators. Despite a few decent choices in between, Brody's downward spiral into sub-par indie oblivion is becoming nearly undeniable.

Predators will most certainly not rescue Brody's acting cred, though the film itself is easily the best of the Predator sequels and, admittedly, Brody's acting heft helps rescue the film from being completely irrelevant.

Directed by Nimrod Antal (Armored, Control), Predators is a loud and boisterous summer action flick produced under the creative arm of Robert Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios with Brody starring as Royce, a mercenary who is leading a group of elite warriors on what they discover to be an alien planet.

The twist? They are the prey of a new breed of alien predators.

Sound hokey? It is.

Sound stupid? It absolutely is.

Sound illogical? Yeppers.

Yet, for those who can tolerate a dumbed down action flick with imbecilic (Is that even a word?) dialogue and paper-thin characters Predators may very well have enough gusto and action to be at least moderately pleasing. While there's literally no aspect of the film that isn't completely predictable, those who can surrender to its unabashed action should at least have a moderately entertaining time.

Predators looks and feels like a B-movie with a surprisingly solid cast that appears to be having a decent time. After all, I suppose, one can't do serious period pieces all the time.

Brody's Royce is joined by an Israeli sniper (Alice Braga), an American death row killer (Walton Goggins), a Mexican drug enforcer (Danny Trejo), a Russian Special Forces Fighter (Oleg Taktarov), a soldier from Sierra Leone (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), a Yakuza (Louis Ozawa Changchien) and, of course, a nerdy doc (Topher Grace).

Based upon a script originally penned  by Rodriguez in 1994 with freshened up dialogue by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch, Predators is much more easy to tolerate in the early going before it spirals down into a sea of absurdity in its second half. Brody, Braga and hefty thesp Laurence Fishburne, in a role best left unidentified, give Predators some entertainment value by tapping into both its horror and B-movie components rather successfully.

So, too, the special effects work of Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger is a definite improvement over recent Predator flicks, though most anything would be. On the flip side, John Debney's irritatingly intrusive score tries a bit too hard to evoke classic monster flicks but instead evokes Ed Wood.

It would be impossible to actually recommend Predators, a film that entertains for far less than its full 106-minute runtime. That said, if you're among the legion of folks who found themselves impressed by even the AVP films then it's incredibly likely that the film's 45 minutes of hardcore action and decent suspense will be enough to please you.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic 


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