Predators, an entertaining film with genuine surprises, may be the first movie I've seen to start with a deus ex machina. Yes, the whole plot and all the humans plummet into the movie from the heavens, dropping toward the alien soil, shrieking, groping for ripcords on the parachutes that they didn't realize they had. The last thing they recall is a blinding blaze of light. The first to land, with a powerful thud, is Royce. The others then crash all around him.
These people are bitter specialized murderers from all over: a mercenary, a yakuza (who uses a Hanzo sword; probably QT buddy Rodriguez's idea), an Israeli markswoman, a serial killer, an African warlord, etc. How did they find themselves in this dense jungle, and why? They determine they're on another planet: a flawlessly terra-formed one, it would appear. The gravity lets them walk as usual, and they can breathe and hydrate. Royce observes something bizarre: The sun never moves. They see there are three or four moons in the sky, which are either colossal or very near.
Even more bizarre, it never becomes molten lava yanked around by enormous tidal waves. But as you always have to say when Rodriguez is involved, "Whatever." After the characters are assaulted by massive eponymous monsters, Royce nails it: They're in a game reservation. He solves a lot of questions in the movie, which might've been more interesting if he hadn't. But it's all still much more intriguing that just pitting two franchise monsters against each other. Instead, this movie is smart enough to again pit predators against humans, who are predators with the weakness of being human. It's the sense of compassion or empathy for our fellow human that makes us vulnerable to predators.
But who oversees this game preserve, and why? If you remember the first Predator, Schwarzenegger and other mercs were in the Amazon pitted against an invisible predatory extraterrestrial. Has that alien race snatched humans into its galaxy for a rematch? Is it a sensible consumption of assets to transfer numerous people countless light years merely so you can kill them purposelessly? No time to ponder. Here come some extremely ferocious four-legged creatures whose horns and fangs continue too far in front of their mouths for them to be able to eat their prey. They don't even look like they can lie on their backs and scoop the quarry in with their feet owing to all the spikes on their backs.
This is a Rodriguez production: Making sense is not an issue. The movie is generally about our malevolent protagonists being mauled by frightening mandible-jawed creatures. who use active camouflage and energy weapons, reposition as swiftly as panthers, can see in a variety of spectrums, and are equally as self-aware as humans, sans compassion of course. Nimrod Antal gave Vacancy a masterful sense of what to show and when to reveal it, and so is a proficient enough director to keep these villains intriguing throughout unintelligible jumbles of bullet-paced visual effects. The eponymous indigents see all in infrared POV shots via what seems like a closed-circuit monitor. Or sinister videotape on a motel TV set perhaps? There are invariably a handful of characters who get slaughtered in manhunt films like this. What puzzles me is why they all don't get slaughtered? Consider if that spiky warthog tackled you to the ground at 20 mph and all you could do was stick it with your knife, would you imagine you'd be making facetious comments on it later on? Still, a charming moment where Apocalypse Now alum Laurence Fishburne hums Ride of the Valkyrie nonetheless pulls us out of the claustrophobia by being meta-referential. On the other hand, lines like "Say goodbye to your little friend" work as momentary relief from the claustrophobia.
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