ANY MOVIE THAT BEGINS with Adrien Brody screaming as he free-falls out of a plane above an alien planet is off to a pretty good start. Any movie that follows that with Brody crashing to the ground to find Danny Trejo dual-wielding Uzis and shouting "Fuck you!" is off to an even better start. Dispensing with the bullshit and kicking right into the action, Predators offers exactly what anyone buying a ticket to a movie called Predators wants: a bunch of pissed-off badasses fighting a bunch of pissed-off aliens.
Predators opens so strong, in fact, that it almost makes you forget the dire straits the Predator franchise has resided in for so long. Following the one decent movie made waaaay back in 1987—John McTiernan's goofy but solidly entertaining Schwarzenegger vehicle Predator—everything went to hell: 1990's Predator 2 brought the alien hunter to L.A. to hang out with Danny Glover and Gary Busey (NOT AS COOL AS IT SOUNDS), and two execrable Alien vs. Predator cash-ins made a convincing argument for the abolition of cinema as a whole.
Produced by Robert Rodriguez—and reportedly based off a spec script he wrote back in the day as a Predator fanboy—Predators rolls old school, ignoring everything after '87. Director Nimród Antal (Vacancy, Armored) does a solid job matching the original film's dense, jungle-swamped look and self-aware tone; even if it loses steam toward the end, this thing feels like a refreshingly retro monster/action flick.
But back to Brody falling out of that plane: Turns out Royce (Brody) is just one of a slew of badasses who've been dumped onto the alien planet. There's our core crew—grumpy mercenary Royce (you can tell he's smart 'cause he quotes Hemingway!), grim soldier Isabelle (Alice Braga), and skittish doctor Edwin (Topher Grace)—along with a bunch of other dudes who I don't think even have names: A quiet Japanese Yakuza dude. A huge black guy who runs African genocides. A kidnap-crazy Mexican (Trejo) who should be in this movie a lot more than he is. (Note to Hollywood: In general, there is never enough Trejo.) All these tough guys (and, okay, fine, the one tough girl) better figure out how to work together, though, 'cause they're up against some pretty horrible shit: (A) the merciless aliens that're hunting them for sport, and (B) Topher Grace's constant whining. "This planet is a game preserve," Brody dramatically declares, "and we're the game." "Waaaahhh, I'm just a doctor! Why am I heeeeerrrrrreeee???" whimpers Topher. Then some predators kill some motherfuckers, annnd... scene.
With copious splatters of blood—both the red and the fluorescent green varieties—and a great, wild-eyed appearance by a tubby Laurence Fishburne (playing a role that I'm guessing was intended for Schwarzenegger), Predators clicks along nicely and bloodily: Our protagonists are steadily winnowed down, explosions explode, lasers laser around, and people fight aliens and aliens fight aliens and people fight people. Even if the climax underwhelms (it does) and even if the dreadlocked, fishnet-clad predators are inherently stupid-looking (they are), it works: Like a decent '80s action flick, this thing is nothing more and nothing less than what it promises, and as far as I'm concerned, that's just fine.