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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - Edition No 907 

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PREDATORS

SYNOPSIS:
Royce (Adrien Brody) regains consciousness in freefall, plummeting towards the ground. His parachute barely saves him - likewise half a dozen strangers who land around him, each ignorant of why and where they are. But they soon get the gist: someone or something is hunting them. Royce himself is a hunter - a cold-blooded mercenary whose only allegiance is to those who pay him. He assumes command over this group of elite warriors who come to realize they've been brought together on an alien planet... as prey. With the exception of unarmed medical doctor Edwin (Topher Grace), they are all cold-blooded killers - mercenaries, Yakuza, convicts, death squad members - human predators who are now being systemically hunted and eliminated by a new breed of alien Predators.

Review by Louise Keller:
Delivering on its promise, Predators is a moody, unrelenting and attention-grabbing sci-fi thriller, filled with action, splendid visual effects and packed with undulating tension. True to its 80s film origins, and using its broad concept as a springboard, the ante of the premise of an invisibly cloaked extra terrestrial warrior is raised and a twist added. The dense jungle may be like the Amazon, but the location is planets away, and the writers that producer Robert Rodriguez has commissioned, have cleverly made the problem of relocating its human characters one of the intriguing plot points. Beyond its spectacular effects and mega-budget, it's good old fashioned entertainment of the B-movie kind, with a strong premise, nicely drawn characters and ace performances from a team of actors spearheaded by Adrien Brody, that make us give more than a damn.

In the attention-grabbing opening frames, we watch as Brody's Royce freefalls through the sky, and lands unceremoniously in the middle of an impenetrable jungle filled with gigantic trees with protruding branches, thick undergrowth, barren rock faces and massive waterfalls. Soon, he and his six unknown companions (who all arrive in similar fashion), all armed with heavy artillery, are up against a devastating adversary with a cloaking device, infra red capabilities, brute force, and minds as contorted as the gnarled tree trunks around them. Thrown together by necessity rather than choice, they're an unruly bunch of alpha stereotypes, made more credible by the fact their behaviour reflects who they really are. Predictably (and at times with humour), there is conflict between them, as they realise it is not coincidental that they, as professional killers and criminals have been chosen and brought here.

Brody is utterly credible as the focused, adaptable mercenary Royce, who thinks on his feet, strategizes and whose survival skills are second to none. He quotes Hemingway, too, much to the surprise of Alice Braga's Isabelle, the athletic Israeli sniper whose Achilles heel is her heart. Topher Grace shows another side as the disgraced doctor with a secret. Each member of the group adds colour - the samurai warrior who doesn't speak much (Louis Ozawa Changchien), the tattooed serial killer (Walton Goggins), the African soldier-warlord (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali; 'I'z as bad as you are; those things are worse'), the tough Russian soldier (Oleg Tartakov), the recluse with an imaginary friend (Laurence Fishburne) and cowboy assassin (Danny Trejo), whose unforgettable face speaks volumes from each wrinkle, scar and crevice.

The visuals are stunning, as are the awesome, terrifying predators, which become more formidable as we climb the pecking order. It's a race against time, a battle of wits as Royce and gang keep one step ahead of the brutal force and formidable destruction of their adversaries. It's edge of the seat stuff with John Debney's pounding music score enhancing the massive stunts, superb cinematography, lighting and strong production elements. Fantasy sci-fi action in impressive form.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
As every master-chef knows, if you start with good ingredients, a bit of imagination and have a top team in the kitchen, you can make even a hamburger qualify as cuisine. In 1994 Robert Rodriguez was hired to write a new, fresh version of Predator, the franchise that started in 1987, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. A big fan of the film, Rodriguez set about writing a new script, without the constraints of having to think about budgets and such. He threw caution to the wind. Years passed and he got very busy, so when asked by Fox to direct it, he suggested producing it instead, at his Troublemaker Studios. And he got himself a top team in the kitchen, starting with Hungarian born director Nimród Antal (winner of the Youth Award at Cannes in 2004 for Kontroll) and one of Antal's favourite cinematographers, fellow Hungarian Gyula Pados (who shot Kontroll).

Retaining the jungle setting of the 1987 original, this fresh new Predators combines commando style action with sci-fi elements in an utterly compelling way. The spectacular opening scene of a man freefalling from the sky begins the adrenaline flow, which hardly stops until the climactic showdown between the predators and the prey. Predators meets every expectation the young male target audience could have.

A small group of professional mercenaries and killers - strangers to each other - has been dropped into this jungle on another planet by aliens; and this time, they are the prey. There is one sharpshooting female among the hard-nosed group, Isabelle, superbly played by Alice Braga, who reveals her demons just as the others reveal the terrible things they have done to survive in combat as predators.

These are deeply flawed characters, hardly the kind of heroes or role models who normally populate action films. But the thing is, the terrifying alien predators with extraordinary powers of shielding themselves and capable of firing deadly rays are so much worse.

Adrien Brody makes a totally credible action anti-hero, and is supported by a motley crew of bad-ass characters like Nikolai (Oleg Tartakov) the likeable Russian spirited out of Chechnya and Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), a Mexican drug bandit. There is also a small but bang-up cameo by Laurence Fishburne who delivers in spades as the mysterious hermit-like survivor, Noland.

John Debney's score underpins the sense of constant danger while the green-blooded creatures and the gory fight scenes are out of this world (literally). Full of surprises and twists, the action and the relationships between the contrasting characters keeps us glued.
Published first in the Sun-Herald



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

PREDATORS (MA)
(US, 2010)

CAST: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo, Derek Mears

PRODUCER: Robert Rodriguez, Elizabeth Avellan, John Davis

DIRECTOR: Nimród Antal

SCRIPT: Alex Litvak, Michael Finch

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gyula Pados

EDITOR: Dan Zimmerman

MUSIC: John Debney

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Cayla Eddleblute, Steve Joyner

RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 8, 2010







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