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The Hunters Become the Hunted

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

A motley crew comprised primarily of Earth’s deadliest killers finds itself in a jungle in the middle of nowhere with no knowledge of how they got there. Even more disconcerting is the revelation that they are being hunted by Predators even more dangerous than themselves. Let the hunt begin.

Predators could arguably be characterized as the true sequel to the sci-fi/horror classic, Predator released in 1987. Director Nimrod Antal was clearly inspired by the original and there are more than a few elements of this film that pay homage. But, Antal smartly adds a few twists that gives Predators a distinct flavor of its own.

As in the original film, our heroes find themselves marooned in a jungle surrounded by a nearly invisible and deadly threat. This time around, it turns out they aren’t on Earth at all and it’s not just one predator they are dealing with, but many. As if escaping from creatures hunting them for sport isn’t bad enough, somehow they have to find a way home as well.

Surviving and finding a way home is tough enough as it is, but this motley crew isn’t exactly team oriented. Mercenaries and killers generally don’t roll that way. The so-called leader of this crew is Royce (Adrien Brody). Cold, gruff, and a formidable predator in his own right, Royce has no qualms sacrificing someone else if it will aid his cause.

Admittedly, it’s a bit of a stretch seeing Adrien Brody in a role like this. He doesn’t have the physical presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger (or any of the cast from the first film). The balance of the cast is comprised of an interesting mix of well known (Topher Grace) and not so well known B-listers (Danny Trejo).

None of the primary cast is developed in any substantive way, which does make it hard to really care about any of them. But, the main attraction here is not the primary cast — the name of the film is Predators after all. Director Antal smartly ups the ante in this sequel (or “reimagining”) by giving us not one, but two species of predators.

The first species is identical to what we saw in the original Predator. These guys are menacing enough as it is. But, as it turns out, the original species pales in comparison to the second species that hunts humans, predators, and seemingly everything in between. It’s an interesting twist, but it’s never really clear why this is the case.

What is also unclear is exactly how the predators managed to identify, extract, and transport their prey to the jungle where they are marooned without anyone noticing or remembering. It’s a deus ex machina that’s hard to ignore. Equally hard to ignore is the fact that the “prey” in this film doesn’t seem nearly as formidable as the prey in the original Predator film, and they’re dealing with multiple threats this time around.

Predators is a solid, straight-up action/sci-fi/horror mélange that is a respectable sequel — or homage — to the first film. But, there are too many moments where it’s impossible to suspend disbelief. This prevents the film from being in the same class as a film like Aliens or even the original Predator. But, for those who enjoyed either of the aforementioned films, you likely won’t be disappointed.