As the saying goes, "everything old is new again." It seems every other film to be unleashed from the Hollywood machine is a remake (or "re-imagining" as producers like to call them) of a classic (?) movie or television show. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, but whenever a studio is in need of a hit, it's quite easy to look to what worked before.
It came as little surprise that a new film in the Predator franchise was commissioned. The original 1987 flick starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is a cult action classic...a jungle war movie turned sci-fi creature fest. There was a forgettable sequel and two mildly tolerable mergings with the Alien franchise (how long until we get a new one of those, too?) that has kept the deadly hunters on the silver screen, but the concept had worn thin.
Producer Robert Rodriguez apparently felt by adding an "s" to the flick, he could capture the same brand of magic James Cameron did with Aliens. I'm hesitant to compare this movie in total with what may be the best sci-fi actioner of all time, but the extra consonant isn't all that Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal lifted. Predators is filled with believable characters, smart action pieces and avoids as many cliches as possible en route to delivering a movie that's actually a worthy sequel.
Unlike the original, the action gets underway pretty quickly in this film. We're thrown into the story with a free-falling Adrien Brody moments before a chute opens and he's deposited in a jungle. Brody quickly finds other souls plummeted into the same situation; all well-trained military, criminals and mercenaries. They have weapons and they're ready for action.
Of course, we the audience know they're here to be hunted by the Predators and they quickly and violently discover that as well. Naturally, everyone gets picked off one by one and their hunters are eventually revealed. The odds of survival would seem slim.
I don't suppose the plot is particularly challenging, but it doesn't need to be. Brody, not known for such roles, lends some gravity to the cast (a fun cameo from Laurence Fishburne doesn't hurt either). No one overacts and sharp directing keeps everything in the realm of believability. Who lives and who dies isn't necessarily shocking, but I enjoyed the hunter/prey games and some of the showdowns are on par with Arnold's faceoff with the original Predator. I was also quite pleased to hear many of the original music cues throughout.
You could do a whole lot worse for genre action. Maybe there's something to pluralizing films.