Predators; R, 106 minutes; Regal Downtown Mall 6

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Adrien Brody and Topher Grace joining forces to revive a franchise inaugurated by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura doesn’t exactly say, “Badass!” or even, “Necessary!” But a lot has happened to the Predator franchise in the meantime, so producer Robert Rodriguez, a longtime fan, dusted off a script that brought the series back to the basics and handed it off to Vacancy director Nimród Antal. The result? Predators isn’t half bad. It isn’t, like, good or anything. But that would be asking way too much.
 

Robert Rodriguez wrote the script for Predators in 1994 as a sequel to the first, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. This new flick finds humans like a buff Adrien Brody (pictured) and Topher Grace among the hunted, this time on the dreadlocked supercreature’s turf.

Eight little humans find themselves heavily armed and parachuted unconscious into the game preserve of another planet’s jungle. They’ve never seen each other before, and at first they know neither that it’s a game preserve nor that it’s another planet. But they figure it out when someone starts hunting them, and also when they get to high ground and discover a sky full of strange planets. Of course, they’re being hunted by relatives of the often invisible, mandibulate extra-terrestrial who summered in the South American jungle in 1987, skinning and disemboweling the locals until being dispatched by pre-governor, post-Terminator Schwarzenegger.

“We are predators,” the sniper played by Alice Braga explains. “Just like them. We’re the monsters of our own world.” This obvious explanation—reinforced by Brody, who quotes from Hemingway—is almost less irritating, because it doesn’t quite account for Grace’s doctor, the designated wimp. Is he here to help keep the others alive so the predators can play with them longer? We’ll see.

Brody becomes the alpha of the group, perhaps by virtue of being the only absolute A-lister, and because his supply of weapons apparently includes the same gravelly-badass voice modulator favored by Christian Bale in the Batman movies. He also bulked up for the role, happily flashes his mud-caked abs to prove it.

The others? Well, let’s not trouble ourselves too much with them. Instead, let’s wait for the big reveal of Laurence Fishburne, riskily harkening back to his film debut in Apocalypse Now, but this time imitating Marlon Brando’s lunatic Colonel Kurtz. He does at least abide by a time-honored actor’s rule: If you can’t be interesting, be brief.

Otherwise, with John Debney’s score sometimes trying too hard to punctuate self-evident moments, Antal moves the action along at a good clip—slowing down only to allow for the stupid paraphrasing of lines from Jaws and Scarface and to draw out a climactic beheading.

Maybe the next one can be about those lonely activists of the predators’ home world who bravely protest their barbaric sport and try to raise consciousness. It can be a comedy.

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