I watched Predator 1 and 2 over the past couple of weeks, and last night I watched Predators. Unless I want to subject myself to the Aliens vs. Predators films (and given how I burst out laughing when my brother recapped the plot of the second one, I can’t imagine I will), I’ve had my fix of Predator-related entertainment.
The first Predator is just plain iconic, y’know? Bunch of dudes in the jungle, originally there for some kind of actual military-related storyline but then that gets hijacked so they can all shit their pants and shoot at an invisible monster. What more can I say? Very enjoyable flick. I keep wanting to say it’s what Rambo II should have been, but I’m not exactly sure what I mean by that. I’m just not a fan of Rambo II.
I’d heard iffy things about Predator 2 and wasn’t too sure if I’d bother with it, but it’s also a great one, and I’d probably say a more rewatchable film. Rather than just rehashing the plot of the first one (which is why I don’t like Rambo II – if I ever make my old movie reviews more immediately accessible I’d link to it, the ol’ review explains why!), it takes place in a mildly sci-fi future where a city is being swamped by gang warfare, with the police genuinely struggling to make an impact against it… and then a Predator shows up! It then ends up hijacking the plot and all the gang warfare stuff is ignored, but that’s understandable considering the Predator probably de-spined them all.
Letting the Predator loose in a city, especially one rife with gang warfare, makes for a really engaging setting, and Danny Glover makes for a great protagonist – better than Arnie, I’d dare say! (Arnold’s iconic and all, but did the guy even have any personality in the first film? He was just the dude with the biggest arms. Danny Glover’s a cowboy cop who doesn’t play by the rules if it means getting results, and he’s got his own little posse of tight-knit cops, so it’s all the more distressing when they’re picked off and he’s the only man left to take on the beast. While the first film slams together war films, sci-fi and primal horror into a very nicely balanced package, the second one opts for more sci-fi and has a few small doses of darkly humourous commentary on the crummy sides of society. Probably not what folks look for in a Predator sequel, but I thought this one, although not as iconic as the original, has a lot more personality. I really enjoyed it.
Predators is back in the jungle again. Except this time it’s on a Predator’s hunting reserve! Ooooh!
… it doesn’t make as much difference as you’d think.
To me, that’s the biggest problem about Predators. Yeah, they’re on the Predators’ turf, and they’re all randomly selected individuals with killing prowess being used as game, but the basic premise still plays out identically to the first film. Every once in a while it incorporates a new, interesting idea… and doesn’t do anything decent with it. At one point they find “the one who got away,” a guy who’s survived several hunting seasons and even has access to the Predators’ technology… and then he’s killed minutes later because he changes his niche from “skilled survivalist” to “backstabbing asshole”. There’s a blood war going on between two kinds of Predators, but since there’s only about four of the things in the movie we barely see it in any detail. One of the characters teams up with a Predator in an attempt to escape from the planet, an idea that’s really pretty intriguing… and then the Predator gets killed mere minutes later.
It also doesn’t help that none of the characters are very likeable. That is kind of the point, given they’re all either soldiers, gang members or prisoners, but they’re also not very interesting either. I was sorely waited for the oh-so-goddamned-mysterious main character to snuff it just so so someone with a bit more intrigue could take the focus. I like Adrien Brody (and BRODYQUEST made me appreciate him even more), but he’s kind of an average guy. That’s part of his charm and precisely why I loved him so much in The Pianist, but having boring mysterious guy with no charisma or intrigue as the main character didn’t help the movie any.
I guess if you liked the first film this’ll be a satisfactory follow-up, but I think I’m just grouchy because I’ve seen excerpts of some great-looking films like Bronson and In The Name Of The Father, and was hoping to watch something fresh and engaging like those, only to end up watching a lacklustre rehash. It was okay, I’ll give it that, but it didn’t offer anything engaging or memorable.