PREDATORS, the third installment in that grisly, take-no-prisoners series, brought terror down to earth in summer of 2010. Well, not down to Earth earth, but to the jungle surface of some other planet, one that fiendish, nigh-unstoppable aliens use as a hunting preserve. As for predators, takes one to know one. Game on.
Eight strangers are startlingly awakened to find they have been separately parachuted into a jungle landscape. They’re not familiar with the place or each other, but they share skills and traits: some helpful, some dubious, all lethal. Individually good at the bad they do, it quickly becomes apparent that, in present circumstances, teamwork might help them.
Dropped to be chopped—-a soldier-turned-mercenary (Adrien Brody), an Israeli Defense Force sniper (Alice Braga), a doctor with a secret (Topher Grace), a multiple murderer off Death Row (Walton Goggins), a Russian commando (Oleg Taktarov), an enforcer from the Yakuza (Louis Ozawa Changchien), a death squad trooper from Sierra Leone (Mahershala Ali), and a Mexican drug cartel killer (Danny Trejo). Surviving from a previous hunt is another soldier, who’s gone off the deep end (Laurence Fishburne). They face different strains of Predator, who also use elaborate booby traps and a yucky pack of quadruped beasts. The humans—homegrown death dealers in their own right—have guns and their assorted well-honed kill-skills. With the right stuff to snuff, the games begin.
Envisioned and co-produced by action master Robert Rodriguez, it’s easily better than the others in the franchise, and thanks to a more personable cast, more enjoyable than the testosterone-choked original. Relish the resultant intensity, tightly directed by Nimród Antal, written by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch. The actors are excellent, the production design superb, the various predators and their critters imaginatively grotesque and daunting. Suitably merciless music score is via the proficient, prolific John Debney. Cinematography was the work of Gyula Pados, filming in Hawaii and Texas. *
Arrayed for $40,000,000, in the US domestic zone it made just $52,000,000, but international returns took that up to $127,200,000, followed by more than $34,000,000 worth of discs.
* As of 2020—–Predator (1987)—very good; Predator 2 (1990)—passable; Alien vs. Predator (2004)—reaching; Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)—desperate; The Predator (2018)—you get what you pay for.
Beyond its obvious sequel status, Predators recalls not just “The Most Dangerous Game”; old-timers may sense a link with a great 1964 episode of The Outer Limits, where two people find themselves transported to another world—in ‘Fun and Games’, Nick Adams and Nancy Malone are hunted by a pair of monstrous creatures for the amusement of an panel of alien observers.