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Hollywood Product: Predators 

Revived sci-fi/action franchise delivers the drive-in worthy goods

click to enlarge DO YOU COME TO THIS PLANET OFTEN? Royce (Adrien Brody, left) and Isabelle (Alice Braga) take aim in Predators.

Rico Torres

DO YOU COME TO THIS PLANET OFTEN? Royce (Adrien Brody, left) and Isabelle (Alice Braga) take aim in Predators.

GENRE: Macho shoot-'em-up — with aliens!

THE PITCH: A multinational group of soldiers and/or murderers (led by Adrien Brody and Alice Braga) find themselves in a mysterious jungle where they're stalked by a familiar group of alien big-game hunters.

MONEY SHOTS: Predators' grabs your attention with its first shot, in which Brody awakens in free fall, plummeting through clouds. ("It's Raining Men" could accompany subsequent scenes, but doesn't.) The humans discover empty crates that presumably contained more dangerous game. The Predators reveal themselves with spiffy new makeup designs. A death row inmate (Walton Goggins) takes on aliens with a big knife. Samurai-style showdown with bladed weapons. Alien vs. alien grudge match. The implications of the final shot.

BEST LINE: "Another inch and that would've hit my tibial artery! It's my lucky day!" exclaims Topher Grace's hapless doctor. "It isn't," deadpans Brody. Most of the other lines get laughs based on the cast's f-bomb delivery.

BODY COUNT: I make it an even baker's dozen if you combine humans and predators, but discount any, um, thing else. If you're squeamish about long shots of decapitations, or stuff getting yanked out of human bodies, beware.

FASHION STATEMENTS: While most of the cast wear combat fatigues or, in Goggins' case, an orange jumpsuit, the Yakuza hitman (Louis Ozawa Changchien) incongruously appears in the jungle with a three-piece suit.

POP REFERENCES: Laurence Fishburne hums a few bars of "Ride of the Valkyrie," a call-back to his big-screen debut film, Apocalypse Now. A character mentions reports that describes the first Predator but ignores the others. Brody quotes Ernest Hemingway. Some derelict spacecraft suggest the twisty vents and corridors of the Alien/Aliens ships, and Goggins reminds me a little of Aliens' Bill Paxton.

FLESH FACTOR: Brody has really beefed up his scarecrow frame, showing off bulging biceps and, in a shirtless scene, an unexpected breadth of chest.

MEMORABLE CREDIT: "Alien skeletons provided by Bone Clones."

POINTLESS GEEKY OBSERVATION: It always bugged me that the Predators supposedly uphold an honorable approach to hunting when they have technological aids far more advanced than their prey. But they might need those visual spectrum-enhancing helmets, because their eyes are set so far back in their skulls, they probably can't see for shit.

LEADER OF THE PACK? Predators is significantly better than all the sequels, and is pretty much on a par with John McTiernan's 1987 original. My favorite remains the fan film "Batman: Dead End."

THE BOTTOM LINE: Genre producer Robert Rodriguez revives an entertaining if minor sci-fi franchise and wisely cedes directorial duties to Hungary's Nimród Antal. If not original or inventive enough to be a true drive-in classic, Predators unquestionably delivers the summer movie action goods, and the first act may please distraught "Lost" fans who miss scenes of castaways experiencing weird jungle phenomena.

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