Review in a Hurry: The spinoff movies featuring those acid-bleeding aliens didn't work out so well, so this time, the big, disappearing, dreadlocked hunters from outer space must face off against...Adrien Brody? Don't worry, action fans, it plays out a lot better than it sounds. Just pray he doesn't run for governor afterward.
The Bigger Picture: Predators begins with Brody falling from a great height, but unlike his former nemesis, King Kong, he doesn't die on impact. Instead, a parachute opens and he lands in a Lost-like tropical forest, with a similarly befuddled, multicultural crew of armed badasses...and Topher Grace.
They quickly bring up the possibility that they're in the afterlife, only to reject it because, as Brody (whose character remains unnamed for most of the movie, but if you look on IMDb...ah, screw it, it's "Royce") posits to the group: One doesn't simply parachute into hell. It's frustrating the way this mystery over where they are is drawn out, because it's unlikely moviegoers can't predict what's coming in a movie called Predators that has a picture of the main Predator on its poster.
So given that you already know this is a movie about humans hunted by Predators where, in all likelihood, the main characters will get picked off one by one, we might as well cut to the chase. Here's what you really want to know if you're reading this:
• Continuity-wise, it acknowledges the events of the first Predator, but not the sequel, which took place in a then-future Los Angeles of 1997. Though the Alien vs. Predator movies aren't specifically referred to, this film does retain the AVP-established rule that younger Predators hunt in threes.
• It's better than the AVP movies, but is not the scope-expanding equivalent of what Aliens was to Alien.
• We learn a little more about Predator culture.
• Yes, Adrien Brody worked out a lot in preparation. Either that or he's wearing a giant Latex chest.
• Director Nimrod Antal, of the excellent Hungarian drama Kontroll, the underrated horror flick Vacancy and the barely seen Armored, was a solid choice for director. He may have a tendency to overscore some scenes, but while the movie has its weak points, it should win you over by the end if you're even remotely a fan of this kind of stuff.
• Oh yeah, and there's gore. This ain't some PG-13 cop-out; the Preds have been boning up (pun intended) on their Mortal Kombat fatalities.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Rather frustratingly, the movie leaves us with a blatant setup for a sequel instead of providing much closure. This was the one trait inherited from the AVP flicks that we could have done without.