Predators is a closer sequel in both nature, tone and setting to the original Predator film than Predator 2, and eventually plays out almost exactly like it, save for the fact that a few more people make it past the halfway point, and that there is no turnaround by a human character trying to hunt one of the aliens of the title. Apart from that, this film and the first one are one in the same, which may actually be its main problem.
The film opens with a man falling from the sky. He turns out to be a slightly more muscular version of Adrien Brody named Royce, who speaks in a deep voice, seemingly trying to make us think that he’s an action star. He pulls his parachute and lands in a jungle, and beside him land a few other people, some of whom try to kill him, but nobody dies yet. Danny Trejo, Topher Grace, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Alice Braga, Oleg Taktarov, Walton Goggins, and Mahershala Ali end up falling close to him, and they decide to team up and find out just what’s going on here.
The thing is, they’re all bad people, which is probably why they were picked. Or so they believe. They’re all murderers or people who have violated some other law. One is a Yakuza member, one is on death row, and one is a doctor. The doctor doesn’t seem to belong with them, and therefore doesn’t get a gun or get to do any of the fighting. They eventually discover that they’re not on Earth, but have instead been dropped off on a planet where the sun doesn’t move, and seems to entirely jungle. This is a good setting, as the first Predator film proved, so at least we’ll get decent action scenes.
As we know from the title, this planet will contain predators, the creatures from the first two Predator films. We know that they exist, whether from the title alone or because of the advertisements. It turns out, that our heroes have been dropped off as wild game for these creatures, because, as we’ve learned before, they enjoy a good hunt. Most of the film deals with the humans attempting to both kill and escape from the predators, all while hoping that they won’t begin backstabbing one another.
What this leads to is a film almost exactly like the first film, except more than twp characters make it past the first half after the predators start going to town on them. Then the killing really starts to pick up, leading to many deaths in a short time period. If you can already guess just by the actors I listed, I wouldn’t be all that surprised. If not, well, once the killings begin, you will no longer be surprised given how much screen time everyone is given. The only surprise in this film is the very first person killed, and all I have to say about that is that it was a serious miscalculation, because this person is talented and probably would have made the rest of the film better with his pretense.
Predators ends up being better than the second film in this series, but slightly worse than the first.
Resulting from this premise are a bunch of action scenes (mostly gunfights), and a couple of hand-to-hand combat sequences. The only truly entertaining part is one where a character fights a predator with a sword, only because we get to see how well these creatures can do when the human is armed, but not with a gun (for a change). But this scene ends too quickly, just like most of the other ones in the film. There’s little filler, which is good, but I feel like the action scenes were trimmed down too much from what they could have been. They are simply too short to make much of an impact either as entertainment or a component to the story.
However, it becomes clear that this premise is just there so that the predators have some people to kill for a couple of hours. That’s fine, but it’s not very interesting after it happens over and over again. Sure, the characters do try to escape and fight back, but we’ve seen how strong these predators can be. In the first two films, two predators took out at least two-dozen people, if not more. Imagine now, what a whole group of them could do.
Apart from the first death in Predators, you’re going to figure out how all of the scenes are going to play out rather quickly. As soon as one get a couple of moments deep, you’re going to realize what’s going to happen, and as a result not find the film all that entertaining. Explosions and gunfire can only sustain so much energy, and when you know how the firefight is going to end, that energy drains rapidly.
At the very least, this is the first Predator film that had unique characters both in their appearance (they’re not all just macho men with army suits) and in their personality. This helps differentiate them, although it doesn’t make us care that they’re pigs to the slaughter. However, I will make note that for a bunch of people who are supposed to be representative of the world’s worst people, they’re surprisingly nice and well-mannered.
Predators ends up being better than the second film in this series, but slightly worse than the first, if only because it’s more or less the same film. The set-up is similar, and while the characters are better, there’s not a lot to keep you entertained. It’s an okay action film, but not one you actively need to seek out, unless you want to watch the first Predator with a more diverse cast, and with much less build.
Conclusion: Predators is a truer sequel to the original than the actual sequel, but it’s also not as good.
Recommendation: If you want Predator with a better cast but less originality, watch Predators.