REVIEW: Predators

The scope? Oh its mostly just there to support my cheek.

I liked the old Predator movie with Schwarzenegger. It was quite novel. An intelligent alien with mostly alien motivations hunting the best of humanity’s own ‘hunters’. It was suspenseful and appealed to me far more than some overpowered jerk hunting screaming, helpless teens (as per most every horror movie).
It was entertaining and I was able to empathize with both hero and villain to a point. At least, I could understand where the villain was coming from.

In Predators (what I consider the official sequel) we see Adrian Brody as the grim, practical black ops man, Danny Trejo as a Los Zetas Mexican cartel enforcer, (genuine Russian!) Oleg Taktarov as a SPETZNAZ soldier (something that I praise in cinema — a lack of authenticity leads to terrible attempts at the language. I’m glaring at you Hunt for Red October), Alice Braga as an Israeli Defense Force sniper, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as an RUF (Revolutionary United Front) militant, Walton Goggins as the violent racist convict, Topher Grace as ‘a doctor’, Louis Ozawa Chanchien as a Yakuza  mobster and Laurence Fishburne as Airborne Cavalry……..along with a few already-dead-when-we-got-there US SF and Ranger folks, which I guess they omitted from the on-screen action due to the last movie being almost exclusively about them but still left their remains in for posterity.

In other words it is the sort of broad collection of earth’s killers that you could see an alien who doesn’t quite understand our society view as a valid choice for opponents. Basically: get one from everywhere. The same sort of solution I can see myself making if I was to interact with a foreign environment and made to collect samples. It makes sense, in that ‘outside perspective’ sort of way and adds to the authenticity to the aliens’ motivations.

Other highlights include: SPOILERS!

I believe the expression is: ‘Jolly well Fucked’.

We get to see a great deal more of the Predators’ societal hierarchy which is very interesting to someone who follows the stories (as I do). Its done well, I think.
I like the traps the Predators set and the Russian goes out with a glorious BANG, bringing down what seems to be the random brute of the alien hunter trio.
Oh and there is an extremely epic and much-appreciated Yakuza samurai vs ‘stealthy scout’ alien sword-fight in a gentle field of tall grass.

From a feminist perspective, I greatly enjoyed seeing the female IDF soldier picked among the worlds best fighters (played by the ever lovely Alice Braga), but while I’m pretty sure she got the most dialogue, it was the strong and silent guy that ultimately led the pack and played the main protagonist. Thats…okay, I suppose.
Still, she is just one woman among eight human dudes making this a sausage-fest, or as I like to call it: a brodeo. She plays a predictably compassionate but ultimately ‘strong female’ role. I don’t mind that she is the ‘softie’ of the group. She is certainly not the most manipulative or physically weak. What she is, however is emotionally kind–which isn’t so much a fault as an expected characteristic — the sort of person that cares about the cohesion of the group. She is a textbook military ‘leader’ (like one would expect of a ROTC graduate). That is admirable and allows for some femininity without compromising her reliability. Thats nice.

However, in the end she (the IDF soldier) has to be rescued by the male hero due to her overwhelming sense of camaraderie and kindness. Not a physical failure mind you (which I find a slight improvement over the usual fare) but simply because she was a decent (if slightly illogical) person. And while she is disabled it is the hero that does the fighting with the head badguy. And although she returns the favor of saving him with a last-second gunshot, it is ultimately still the male hero that lands the killing blow.
Disappointing.
It would have almost been better if the female protagonist had just died of her wounds at the end. It would have made it less sappy.
Still, while there is a slight romantic undertone to Braga and Brody’s interaction in the end, it is not terribly overt and is mostly speculative (plus they were too fucked up to make out at the end anyway)–so points for not shooting for a total cliche.

One thing that is a greatly redeeming feature, is that the ‘serial killer’ of the group isn’t up against frightened teenage children running around a dorm or lake-house. The serial killer is up against competent people. This is absurdly rewarding for me, because I have a serious problem finding the token ‘horror movie’ compelling when I can’t metaspacially occupy the hero or even relate to their actions. So while in those movies the hero(s) spend half a movie running around like frightened morons and get picked off one by one —
I. Am. Bored.
With this movie, the badguys are compellingly intelligent (in their way) and so are the heroes (in their own way). Therefore when the human serial killer character tries his usual shit, the hero’s actions are something I can internally smile at and say “Well done!”
“Way to not be a stupid shit.”
“I am going to go and write a positive review for this film!”

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