Predators

Aggressively mediocre.
★
☆☆☆
Released: 
2010
Director: 
Nimrod Antal
Starring: 
Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Oleg Takarov, Danny Trejo
The Setup: 
Buncha badasses dropped on a planet get hunted by...
Discussion: 

So how bad is the current choice in movies? So bad that my regular movie buddy and I were chose to see Predators, that's how bad. He initially balked when I suggested it, saying he thought he "might be disappointed," before I assured him that regardless of how it came out, he would, in fact, be disappointed. And I was right!

So we open with Adrien Brody falling out of the sky. We don't find out his name until the last second, so let's just call him Brody. His chute just a few seconds before he enters the treetops, but you know what? He's FINE! It's just amazing that way. He meets up with a bunch of other people, and they all have the same story. Walk, walk, bicker, bicker, they realize that they're being hunted for sport, and soon realize that they are on another planet. They are all tough guys from this army or that killing squad, or whatever, except one doctor, and no one points out that this is somewhat odd.

There is one woman among them, played by Alice Braga, and as always with the female characters, she is the source of moral shame to everyone else, of the "We can't leave him!" variety. At one point Brody, who is a super-smart ruthless killer dude, allows one of the group to be killed in order to get a look at what is hunting them, and Braga thinks this is really, REALLY wrong! Not that there's anything wrong with being morally upright, but doesn't anyone get sick of the easy character shorthand that woman are automatically more moral than men? I know women get sick of being portrayed as the shrill dispenser of moral advice [aka as NAGS], and this simple, unquestioned character shorthand is in part where that comes from. This means, of course, that the men are selfish scumbags, but they take ACTION, and that's what makes them okay.

One can also wonder that we've gotten to the place where it's a comedic line that an ex-convict says "If I get off this planet I'm gonna rape so many bitches... It's gonna be like, 'five o'clock, time to rape some bitches." Okay, we've accepted [?] that women are routinely referred to by some as "bitches," but the idea that RAPE is now just an amusing, harmless fun some bad-boy men have? Is that really where we are? But it's an ex-con saying it and we're all distanced and ironic about it, so it's no big deal.

Laurence Fishburne shows up for a bit and departs just as quickly, leaving almost no impression. Then there's a fight here, a killing there, we learn that all Japanese people are trained in Samurai swordfighting [easy character shorthand, part 6,876], and finally we come to the climax, which just seems to go on and on and on without much interest or variation. Except here the issue of whether you should leave someone behind is brought to the fore, and a certain someone stays behind--to show that he has grown as a person!--and that's pretty much it.

Among its problems, the primary one being a total lack of reason to exist, is the fact that the story is extremely low-stakes. The movie has arranged it so that it'll be difficult, if not impossible, for them to get off the planet and back to Earth, so there's really almost nothing for the characters to work for. Sure, movie plots are often arbitrary and are really just MacGuffins [We need to reach the generator! We need to get the access code!], but they provide the characters with something to work toward and short-circuit that gnawing feeling in the viewer that you're just sitting there wasting time when truly, those dishes aren't going to clean themselves. Which is precisely what this movie DOESN'T do: you're sitting there thinking "Yeah, but what's the point of all this? They're never going to get off that planet, and if they survive this round of predators, they'll just get killed by the next round." So the characters run here, run there, do this, do that, but since it's overwhelmingly obvious that there's no point to any of this, one's mind is free to sit pondering how the Predators really don't have the eerie resonance that Aliens do, and whether there's any of that chocolate peanut butter ice cream left in the freezer.

And frankly, this movie is aimed at a lower educational level than I am quite sure you've achieved. If you need to waste time or really need air conditioning you could maybe pass time here, but otherwise you might to better to save your brain cells and money.

Should you watch it: 

If you have only a high school education or lower.