Produced by Robert Rodriguez (who also came up with the story) and directed by Nimród E. Antal, this is the forgotten film of the Predator franchise. Its title relates to Aliens and it also describes the humans who have come to this alien planet.
Royce (Adrien Brody, cast against type here but awesome in his role; he has even offered to return in sequels) is a mercenary who awakens as he parachutes into an unfamiliar jungle. It’s a great sequence that sets up the non-stop chase that makes up the movie. Soon, he meets other predators: Mexican gang member Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), Spetsnaz Russian soldier Nikolai (UFC fight Oleg Taktarov, who was happy to play a rare positive Russian character in an American film), Israeli sniper Isabelle (Alice Braga, The Rite), RUF soldier Mombasa (Mahershala Ali, Moonlight), Yakuza gang member Hanzo, San Quentin death row inmate Stan (Walton Goggins, House of 1000 Corpses) and a doctor named Edwin (Topher Grace from TV’s That 70’s Show), who doesn’t seem to fit. They finally make their way through the jungle to a clearing where they stare up at multiple planets. It’s a jarring scene that reminds us that we are far away from Earth.
It turns out that this planet is a game preserve where the Predators gather game to be hunted. Soon, Cuchillo is killed and used as a trap. Then, they find a captive Predator and three larger hunters, known as the Tracker, Berserker and Falconer. Mombasa is killed and Royce demands to know why Isabelle knew who the aliens were. That’s because she knew Dutch from the original movie and heard his story.
They then meet Noland (Laurence Fishburne), a soldier who has survived for ten seasons. Even though he explains the rules to them, he tries to kill them for their supplies. As they escape, Royce hatches a plan to exploit the feud between the smaller and larger Predators.
As he tries to escapes the fire, the Tracker kills Noland but is taken out by Nikolai’s mines as he sacrifices himself to help the party. Similarly, Stan saves everyone by facing off with the Berserker, but his skull and spine are ripped out. Hanzo is the last to put himself before the group as he and the Falconer duel, with both dying from their wounds.
Royce, Isabelle and Edwin make their way to the camp, but Edwin is injured and Isabelle won’t leave him behind. Royce then frees the smaller Predator and they set the ship’s course for Earth. Unfortunately, the Berserker returns, kills his rival and blows the ship up. It’s revealed why Edwin is there: he was a killer and uses poison he found on the planet to paralyze Isabelle. Royce arrives in the nick of time and saves her.
Our heroes cover Edwin with grenades and then Royce battles the Predator one on one, killing it with an axe just as more parachutes come down from the sky. Soon, more Predators will come, but they will be ready.
I really enjoyed this film, both in the theater and then revisiting it a few weeks ago on blu-ray. It deserves to have more people watch it. Hopefully with the new The Predator movie coming out, this will happen.
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