The original Predator movie is an all-time classic, one of the most popular action/sci-fi movies of all time, and as such any sequel would be judged harshly against it. The second movie was very good, but a lot of people don’t seem to like the change to an urban environment Predators, on the other hand, manages to recapture a lot of the magic of the original film, whilst still being its own animal.
The film begins with a group of soldiers and mercenaries falling through the sky, plummeting into some unknown jungle. The audience, and the protagonists, are given no explanation as to what’s going on and are left to slowly put the pieces together as this group make their way through this strange environment, discovering small clues that indicate that they’re not alone. It soon becomes apparent to them that the group haven’t just been dropped into a jungle, but have been abducted to an alien planet, and are being hunted down by vicious alien hunters.
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This change to the standard Predator formula is one of the best things the film does. Instead of the aliens coming to earth to hunt humans, they’ve taken their prey somewhere else. It adds a whole new threat for the protagonists as they have no way to escape, don’t know what’s around them, and are unsure if climbing the next hill could lead them to safety or something awful.
It also allows the film to have a group of protagonists who don’t know each other. Whereas the first film was a seasoned squad of soldiers, and the second was a group of cops who knew each other, this is a group from vastly different backgrounds with no reason to trust each other except for immediate survival.
The cast chosen for this group are great, and this film has some of the better acting in the entire Predator franchise. The film even has two Oscar-winning actors in Royce (Adrien Brody) and Mombasa (Mahershala Ali). Even those members of the cast who haven’t won Oscars are brilliant. Walton Goggins is a joy to watch as a sick and twisted death-row inmate; Danny Trejo is his usual wonderful self as a drug cartel enforcer; and Lawrence Fishburne is stand-out as a lone survivor of a previous hunt.
The cast of characters in this film is way more important than in the other movies, and seeing them discovering each other’s strengths, learning to work together, and even fighting amongst themselves changes the standard hunt formula into a scenario where you’re never sure how things are going to happen or who’s going to stand up and be a hero.
The film also gives us a new variation on the standard Yautja monsters, introducing new creatures and new lore to the universe. Through this film we learn that there are different factions of the predators, with the new ‘Super Predators’ also happy to hunt down their more familiar counterparts. Some people complained about this change, saying that it messed with the backstory too much, but considering most of the background information on the species only came through books and comics I think this is a fine addition to the film universe, and a whole lot better than what would come in The Predator years later.
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The three new predators all have unique designs, and stand out instantly. Whilst the Berserker Predator got most of the fanfare as the ‘lead’ bad guy, and was who Adrien Brody had to beat at the end to survive the film, I loved the Falconer Predator a lot purely for the scene where shirtless Yakuza enforcer Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changshien) has a katana fight against it in waist high grass. Seriously, that scene might be one of the coolest moments in any Predator movie.
I can understand that the film might not be for everyone, and a casual viewer might not love it, but for someone like myself, who grew up watching the original over and over, and loved the franchise, it’s a love-letter to the original. The story and environment nod to the first film without retreading the same steps, and there’s so much of the original music in this film that it really feels a part of the same universe in ways that the other sequels didn’t.
I adore Predators. I think that it’s way better than it really has any right to be, and stands out against other sequels and spin-offs as the best follow-up the franchise has to offer. The cast are great, the action loud and fun, and the horror elements are definitely still there. Best Predator sequel to date.
Predators was released in the UK on 8th July 2010.