The most dangerous game

The Predator franchise returns to form

Adrien Brody and Alice Braga are in the crosshairs on Planet Predator.

Adrien Brody and Alice Braga are in the crosshairs on Planet Predator.

Starring Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Laurence Fishburne and Topher Grace. Directed by Nimród Antal. Feather River Cinemas, Paradise Cinema 7 and Tinseltown. Rated R.
Rated 3.0

The latest iteration of the original Schwarzenegger vehicle is an early Christmas gift for the long-suffering faithful fans of the first version, who have continually had their mellows harshed by a series of half-assed thwartings of the potential of the Predator franchise.

In the newest entry, the day doesn’t start off well for soldier of fortune Royce (Adrien Brody). Fortune played out, he wakes up to find himself cartwheeling in freefall, high above earth. Clouds zipping by and wind screaming in his ears. Royce does the logical thing and starts screaming along with the wind. Fortunately for him, his ’chute is on a timer and it pulls his ass up from making a deep crater in the earth. Bad news gets worse—that’s “earth” in the lower case. Turns out poor ol’ Royce is a long, long way from his home planet.

The sorta good news is that he’s got homies dropping in out of the sky behind him, a handful of battle-seasoned hard cases such as Danny Trejo, Alice Braga, Topher Grace (okay, Grace isn’t a hard case, but he’s in the movie) and some other heavily accented actors from a multinational stew. Anyway, they all hit the dirt and blink around at the unfamiliar jungle. Of course, they don’t know that they’re homies yet.

Then there’s the worst news of all: This crème de la crème of badasses (and Topher Grace) have been abducted from the battlefields of Earth and dropped into an even more dangerous game as prey for a bunch of alien predators getting their sport on. (Well, the earthlings are the aliens but … anyway.) These predators are a li’l more civilized than the Earthers ’cause they’ve chosen a prey that can fire back, instead of being humane and lying in wait to ambush Bambi with a sniper rifle. I suppose Predators don’t see the sport in something like that.

Soooo … after 20 minutes of wandering around, shit and pieces of humans start flying about. (It’s produced by Robert Rodriguez, so the shit blowing up is done real good.) It then veers into the sci-fi competition and uses Aliens as a template (tropin’ out with Braga on hand as the now-ubiquitous badass Latina soldier, for example) but does it well enough. The downside is that the final half gets a li’l too dark and shaky-cammy (that and the exit line by Brody is mind-numbingly lazy).

Otherwise, it colors well enough within the lines, takes the premise seriously and decamps the camp. And after the two Alien vs. Predator things, that’s something in itself. Although pretty much every other movie this summer has sucked so bad that adequate starts looking good.