Director: Nimrod Antal Release Date: July 8 2010 Review by Tara Judah Whether or not you enjoy this film will rest entirely upon the variety of expectations you bring with you to the cinematic table. Is this the greatest film in the Predator franchise? No, of course not. Are the many predators as awesome as the original one predator? No dice. Is Adrien Brody’s Royce a patch on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch? No, and there’s no need to be ridiculous now. Well, is it at least a good fun actioner with a singular, clear focus of perfecting pure unadulterated popcorn style high octane entertainment? We have a winner. When ex-military “black ops” leader Royce (Adrien Brody) comes to, mid-air, after being thrown unconscious from a moving airplane, he is understandably pissed. Upon landing in the middle of a non-descript jungle in the middle of somewhere he discovers that he is not the only one who has been “dropped” in this foreign terrain and that “they” as a group of humans are not entirely alone. Once he has managed to assemble a good enough group from the outlaws who collectively nod to every kind of tokenism imaginable to mankind (and subsequently resembles something of a slightly bad-ass Benetton commercial), he embarks upon a fairly typical hard-arse lone ranger “follow me if you want to live, but I’m better off on my own” model of leadership for the rest of the duration. As they trek through the dense, tropical jungle, there are several questions that want answering, the first of which is where are f**k are they? Not in any jungle known to any of the ethnicities included in our multicultural little group, and baffling to even the best of girl or boy scouts; no easily distinguishable north point and a sun that doesn’t seem to have moved position in several hours; how ever will they get away from wherever it is that they have landed? It is not before long that they realise the jungle they are ensconced in is not of the planet Earth (though fortunately the atmosphere appears to be the same), rendering escape something of a pipe dream and survival a far more worthy pursuit. With a better determination they then realise that they are like pawns in a gigantic predatory contest, “This planet is a game reserve and we’re the game.” They further deduce that they have been chosen to participate in this elaborate construct due to their own individual predatory natures, making them the ultimate in subjects for pursuit. Fortunate as they are to think like predators and understand the techniques used against them, acknowledging when they’ve been “flushed out” in the first instance, they tactically search for the base camp of the planet’s evil masterminds. Although this modicum of explanation along with a little back-story and some inconsequential CGI dino-hounds isn’t overly drawn out it is certainly something of a respite when the actual predators in question hit the screen. Most importantly, they look very good, and are, in a well measured effort, all sufficiently and satisfactorily individualised by their elaborate body armour. The only downside for lovers of the original Predator (1987) film being that there is a hell of a lot less of the thermal imaging going on and even less of the signature sound that made that original predator so damn creepy in the first place. Of course, the visual and aural alterations serves well for both a new generation and also so as to set this film apart from its predecessors, of whom it would otherwise be incessantly and needlessly compared to by critics and fans alike. (Ahem.) There are of course along the way some fairly standard and expected twists and turns; a living human being who has survived and outwitted the predators turns up; the predators’ have the annoying ability to adapt quicker than the humans can ever hope to strategise, prepare and attack; and of course, there are betrayals within the group of humans itself. But all of these things serve as pleasant narrative fodder in an otherwise action-packed and combat-driven adventure flick. More to its credit, the film never tries to rise above its own limitations; its “deepest” or most philosophical thoughts expressed as plain, simplistic rather than reflective statements, “We are predators. Like them, we are monsters of our own world....Here, among the monsters, I’m normal.” But that’s not to say that it doesn’t have a little bit of bite because, at the end of the day, the film does nothing if not give its viewer a riotous good time. Ending tongue-in-cheek, its own assessment offered through some stellar dialogue at the end of the film; rather than sap and sentiment Royce is charged at the crux of the film with a heart, “You’re a good man after all.” To which the sexy, strapped, bloody, muddy, broody Brody replies, “No, I’m not. But I’m fast.” Touché. Photobucket