There are not quite so many muscles on display in this sort-of sequel to John McTiernan’s 1987 classic Predator — although there are some, and you will not forget them. There are no future governors amid the sweaty jungle action (unless Topher Grace makes a run for office, and who’s to say he won’t?). There is, however, spinal-cord gouging, a device that almost makes up for how little you care what happens to the characters.
Predators makes a brief reference to the earlier film, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura as commandos on a mission in Central America who find themselves hunted by a powerful extraterrestrial warrior. (There was a Predator 2, but the less said about it the better. Also forget those Alien vs. Predator movies; you may spot an alien skull or two amid the wreckage, but those films are largely irrelevant.)
Predators offers a more premeditated, Greatest Hits-type deal: Someone has assembled a group of killers — from the military, Special Ops, Chechnya, Death Row, a drug cartel, an African death squad, the yakuza, the medical profession — and dumped them on what appears to be another planet as prey for the bloodthirsty aliens. The whole set-up is reminiscent of TV’s Lost, only without the repetitive flashbacks and time travel, and, overall, the Predators cast isn’t quite so pretty.
Adrien Brody, of all people, plays the defacto leader of the motley group — he’s the Special-Ops guy, a heartless mercenary destined to show us that he does, in fact, have a soul but probably not until the end of the movie. The Oscar winner (for Roman Polanski’s The Pianist) has no business being this good as an action hero, and yet there’s never a moment when he’s less than believable. Predators boasts a more talented cast overall than the original movie had, including Walton Goggins (The Shield, Justified), Alice Braga (Repo Men, I Am Legend) and the aforementioned Grace (who plays the doctor, in case you were wondering if he were the guy on the African death squad). They all help keep the goofy, improbable plot spinning, though one could make a compelling case that half the fun of the first movie is laughing at the bad acting.
Little happens that you don’t see coming, down to which cast members will get picked off and in what order. It’s a dumb action movie in a summer full of dumb movies, and yet it’s always entertaining. And you won’t really miss Arnold at all.
Cast: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne.
Director: Nimrod Antal.
Screenwriters: Alex Litvak, Michael Finch, Jim Thomas, John Thomas.
Producers: Elizabeth Avellan, John Davis, Robert Rodriguez.
A 20th Century Fox release. Running time: 106 minutes. Violence, gore, language.