Directed by Nimród Antal. Starring Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo. (2010, R, 106 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., July 16, 2010
Here's the truth: If you're lucky enough to have an honest-to-grindhouse drive-in theatre within cruising distance of your home planet, then by all means, pack up your '57 Chevy, Dodge Challenger, G.T.O., or – seriously? what would Roger Corman say?! – Toyota Prius and head on over to that eye-popping, mind-warping, starlit screen of endless sexy mayhem. Bring your best (or, lucky you, first) gal/guy, settle back into your crimson leather seat-belt-less backseat, put the top down, pull her/his top down, and get some. Badass retro sci-fi cinema, that is. And while you're at it, don't skimp on the popcorn and surreptitious hip-flasks of your favorite tipple. Summer was made for this kind of film, and Predators is almost exactly what you need to fix this otherwise busted summer cinema season. (If you can manage a full moon, all the better.) Produced by Robert Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios and largely shot in and around Austin, Predators is the sequel to John McTiernan's 1987 Predator; it's the "aliens on a hunting spree" sci-fi-actioneering classic that should have been. Alas, we had to endure the urbanized Predator 2 – a guilty pleasure of mine thanks to the mindfucking Glover/Busey/Blades/Paxton/Davi/Morton Downey Jr./Maria Conchita Alonso megacast – and the two-part Alien vs. Predator misfire before Rodriguez and director Antal (who made Kontroll and the more recent, well-done heist flick Armored) returned to the Schwarzeneggerian basics of this most dangerous game. But for fans of the original, it's well worth the wait. (Not so much for nonfans, but still.) A seriously ripped and very serious Brody leads a cast of buff, tough, multinational bad guys as they're dropped (literally) out of the sky and into an alien hunting preserve. The tropes are ancient, the action is abundant, and the final shot is a doozy, rivaling Rodriguez's more haywire (and therefore more entertaining) From Dusk Till Dawn. Genre fans will grok inside references to Apocalypse Now, Aliens, and possibly too much of Pitch Black, but it's bloody good fun to see a Frank Frazetta-esque shot of one luckless quarry despined (cranium and all) against a triple-planeted green screen. Notably, the real fun kicks off with the pre-Predators trailer for Rodriguez's Danny Trejo-starring Machete, but let's be honest, shall we? This is one off the most giddily intense throwbacks to the age of New World Pictures' Galaxy of Terror since, well, that selfsame 1981 Corman gorefest. And let's just forget about the whole Aliens/Predators danse macabre entirely. The drive-in – and all that it entrails – awaits.