"Predators" Hits Most of the Notes in Pitting Badasses vs. Aliens

This Robert Rodriguez–produced sequel goes back into the bush to follow 1987's Predator—a sci-fi horror that put the multi-megaton American stud-soldiers of Reagan-era action in the infra-red, stalking POV of a higher-tech galactic Superpower.

This time, U.S. black ops turned soldier-of-fortune Royce (Adrien Brody, knotty with new muscle) literally plummets into uncharted jungle terrain. Mind-wiped and stranded, he finds a likewise-disoriented gaggle of international badmen yanked from Mexican cartels, the Chechnyan front, Sierra Leonean death squadrons, and death row, rounded out by a femme sniper (Alice Braga) and an unarmed comic-relief Topher Grace.

Middle-range genre man Nimród Antal (Control, Armored) carries the burden of franchise-expectation without undue solemnity, conducting his Dirty Octet through the slow-dawning revelation that they're on a game preserve, hand-picked for predator hunters—then cranking up the grinder. The loyalties and tensions in this hell-is-other-mercenaries premise might have been more deviously rigged. There could be more open pleasure in the exploitation-movie concept (only Walton Goggins's con really basks in villainy).

Adrien Brody and Alice Braga may be the ultimate prey, but someone gave them big guns.
Adrien Brody and Alice Braga may be the ultimate prey, but someone gave them big guns.

Louis Ozawa Changchien's silent Yakuza suddenly stopping for a samurai showdown makes no sense unless motivated by inscrutable Asian motives. But doing The Most Dangerous Game is, for action directors, what covering "Satisfaction" is to bar bands; if you hit most of the notes, it'll do.

 
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