Let’s watch a Hunger Games meets Predator mashup.
I think this is technically the third attempt at reenergizing the franchise, so things probably weren’t looking great on a production plan. Note: this review will contain serious spoilers.
We do actually have some star power this time around, with Adrien Brody (as grunty mcgruntface) and Mahershala Ali as a stereotypical African warlord. Laurence Fishburne also appears for some reason, though I am not quite sure why.
I am not sure if the casting or the writing is the larger problem here. Brody (who is a fine actor) is terribly miscast as a grunting tough mercenary. He lacks the physical prowess to be mimicking good old Arnie’s aura in this one. I think a larger problem is that he simply looks too smart to be so one dimensional.
The characters aren’t allowed the benefit of critical thought unless it serves as a lazy way to establish that this is a dog-eat-dog world. Our heroes (or anti-heroes) are parachuted into an alien world and quickly realize they are being used for sport. We are first introduced to Brody and Danny Trejo before the rest of the group arrives, along with Topher Grace—why is Topher Grace in this?
We get a solid smattering of international (stereotypical) badasses: the cartel member, the Yakuza member, the mercenary, the Spetsnaz, Topher Grace, an IDF sniper, and a criminal (Walton Goggins—who is wasted here).
The obvious thing here is that the mild-mannered Topher stands out. He claims to be a doctor and showcases some medical knowledge—knowledge which is never used in any way by any of the survivors. It is mentioned early that his being different is significant, but the story never really gets back to that. We called it pretty early that he is probably a serial killer, and oh, big shock, he is. You can also guess which members will survive until the end with just about 100% accuracy. I think we could just show a picture of the cast to just about any movie goer and they would be able to at least be 80% accurate.
I guess the selling point here is that there are a whole bunch of predators. We also learn that there is a class system among the predators, and they sometimes fight other for no fucking reason. I am not sure what the point of this conflict was (other than an expected and overall boring predator vs. predator brodown) and it adds nothing to the narrative.
I think the saddest part of this film is that it is the best sequel the franchise has seen. It is a serviceable, albeit stupid action yarn. Adding in all the class lore, foreign planets (with earth plants for some reason), and complications add nothing to the series aside from letting us see how flimsy the actual story is…
You know, I remember when it was just about a monster hunting down foul-mouthed American badasses.
The whole dropping random predators (SEE! SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE???) to be hunted by predators smacks a lot of something akin to the Hunger Games or just about any other criminal-focused YA novel. This one says fuck, so I guess it is adults only, but cut that out and you basically have the next hit for our dystopian loving generation.
At best, this one shows us that the franchise needs to lean on being an action movie and basically nothing more. At worst, this is a lazy remake of the original that doesn’t add enough new to be that interesting. The technology looks better, but that isn’t enough of a reason to justify continuing to churn this series out once every few years.
The breadth of time between sequels (the newest one coming out in 2018) indicates a wariness of studios to finance any more of these. With this sort of lazy, boring, and predictable storytelling, for once I agree with the producers.