PREDATORS — ★★ — Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace; rated R (violence, gore, profanity, brief drugs, slurs); in general release
Just one scene. That's all it takes to turn "Predators" from a dumb fun movie to simply a dumb and not nearly as fun movie.
That particular scene not only features some bad plotting and equally awful dialogue, but it also features a laughably bad performance that undercuts what has come before.
What's particularly disappointing is that, up to that point, the movie is sort of enjoyable. From there, though, things go completely awry.
Contrary to some early reports, the film is not a "prequel" to the original, 1987 film "Predator." Instead, it is a sequel, as was 1990's ill-considered follow-up, "Predator 2."
It's also the umpteenth rehashing of the "Most Dangerous Game" concept. In it, a group of killers find themselves in an unfamiliar jungle with fully loaded weaponry.
They include a Guatemalan soldier (Alice Braga), a death-row inmate (Walton Goggins), a gang enforcer (Danny Trejo) and a seemingly out of place physician (Topher Grace).
A mercenary who is reluctant to give his name (Adrien Brody) becomes the reluctant leader.
It soon becomes apparent to him and the others that this particular jungle isn't on Earth.
Instead, it's part of an off-world "game preserve." Worse still, they're being hunted down by a lethal alien race, the predators, who are using some of their own methods and traps against them.
This story has been done to death, but the twists screenwriters Michael Fitch and Alex Litvak came up with are really inane. One of them is completely predictable, when you think about the casting.
And at times, Brody seems annoyed at having to read their dialogue. He did get "ripped," physically, for this role, though, so he is more believable than you'd expect as an action hero. Now if only the material used his and director Nimrod Antal's talents properly.
"Predators" is rated R and features strong, sometimes disturbing violent content and imagery (gunplay and shootings, knifeplay and swordplay, including slashings and stabbings, disembowelings, creature attacks, fiery and explosive mayhem, and violence against women), bloody, gory and gooey imagery, strong sexual language (profanity and other suggestive talk), brief drug references (narcotics), derogatory language and slurs (some of them sexist in nature), and brief glimpses of nude artwork (a tattoo). Running time: 106 minutes.