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It did battle with Schwarzenegger in Central America in 1987; took on Danny Glover in 1990’s L.A; was pitted against Aliens in Antarctica in 2004 and had a rematch in small-town Colorado in 2007.
Now everybody’s favorite extraterrestrial, invisibility-cloaked, trophy-hunting life-form returns to prey on Adrien Brody and company on its home turf in “Predators.”
Very much bearing the creative imprint of Robert Rodriguez, but directed by Nimrod Antal, the new edition, in its best moments, is an unabashed B-movie that plays like a jacked-up “Twilight Zone” with award-winning actors delivering the pulp-infused dialogue.
Those moments, unfortunately, are fewer and farther between as the film progresses, giving way to flat-out incoherence.
Still, this reboot packs sufficient hits of guilty pleasure to keep the franchise alive, with an international cast that should help extend its boxoffice reach well beyond North America.
Things certainly get off to a gonzo start, with Brody’s mysterious black-ops mercenary hurtling down toward the jungle terrain with a faulty parachute pack.
It turns out he’s not the only one to have unceremoniously fallen from the sky.
Joining Royce on what turns out to be an alien planet, are the U.N. of elite killers, including an Israeli sniper (Alice Braga), a Russian Special forces fighter (Oleg Taktarov), a soldier from Sierra Leone (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), a Yakuza (Louis Ozawa Changchien), a Mexican drug enforcer (Danny Trejo), and an American death row killer (Walton Goggins).
Unsure of how he fits into the mix is Topher Grace’s nerdy doctor, but it very quickly becomes apparent that the terrain onto which they’ve been deposited is a sort of game preserve and they’re the intended fresh meat.
Despite the intriguing set-up, several of the sequences also begin to feel as if they’ve been recklessly dropped into place rather than strategically assembled to build off each other, creating a semblance of dramatic tension.
Using a script originally penned by Rodriguez back in 1994 as their template, credited writers Alek Litvak and Michael Finch bring some colorful dialogue to the series, while Antal, whose previous action films include “Kontroll” and “Armored,” injects some welcome edge, especially in the picture’s first half.
Lending a measure of dramatic gravitas, meanwhile, are Brody and Laurence Fishburne, whose specific role here is best left unrevealed.
Rodriguez’s hand is also in the overall look of the film’s visual effects, with longtime collaborators Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger in charge of the noticeably more detailed alien upgrades.
Laying it on a bit thick, on the other hand, is John Debney’s cacophonous score, working overtime to evoke vintage monster movie cheese.
Opens: Friday, July 2 (20th Century Fox)
Production companies: Troublemaker Studios, Davis Entertainment Co., Dune Entertainment
Cast: Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace, Alice Braga
Director: Nimrod Antal
Screenwriter: Alex Litvak and Michael Finch
Executive producer: Alex Young
Producers: Robert Rodriguez, John Davis, Elizabeth Avellan
Director of photography: Gyula Pados
Production designers: Steve Joyner, Caylah Eddleblute
Music: John Debney
Costume designer: Nina Proctor
Editor: Dan Zimmerman
Rating: R, 106 minutes
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