International release poster
|Directed by||Nimród Antal|
by Jim Thomas
|Music by||John Debney|
|Edited by||Dan Zimmerman|
|Distributed by||Twentieth Century Fox|
|Box office||$127.2 million|
Predators is a 2010 American science fiction action film directed by Nimród Antal and starring Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo, Mahershala Ali, Oleg Taktarov and Louis Ozawa Changchien. It was distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is the third installment of the Predator franchise, following Predator (1987) and Predator 2 (1990), while ignoring the events of the crossover films Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007).
The film follows an ensemble cast of characters including Royce (Adrien Brody), a mercenary who appears in an unidentified jungle among other murderers and otherwise undesirable people. They find that they have been abducted and placed on a planet which acts as a game reserve for two warring tribes of extraterrestrial killers, and actively look for a way to return to Earth.
Producer Robert Rodriguez had developed a script as early as 1994, although it was not until 2009 that 20th Century Fox greenlit the project. According to Rodriguez, the title Predators is an allusion to the second film in the Alien franchise, Aliens (1986). The title also has a double meaning, referring both to the extraterrestrial Predator creatures and to the group of human characters who are pitted against them. Principal photography for Predators began on September 28, 2009 and concluded after 53 days; filming took place in Hawaii and then in Austin, Texas.
Predators was released in the United States on July 9, 2010, and was met with mixed reception from film critics, with Metacritic giving it a score of 51% from selected mainstream critics. The film grossed over $24 million on its opening weekend, and has since grossed over $52 million in the United States, with an estimated total of $127 million worldwide.
Royce (Adrien Brody) awakens to find himself parachuting into an unfamiliar jungle. He meets several others who arrived in the same manner: Mexican drug cartel enforcer Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), Spetsnaz soldier Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), Israel Defense Forces sniper Isabelle (Alice Braga), Revolutionary United Front officer Mombasa (Mahershala Ali), death row inmate Stans (Walton Goggins), Yakuza enforcer Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien), and a general practice doctor Edwin (Topher Grace), while an unnamed soldier, right after Cuchillo lands, dies after falling to the ground on impact due to his parachute not opening.
Upon landing, they discover that all are armed and lethal killers, with the apparent exception of Edwin, though none know where they are or how they got there. The group follows Royce, whom Isabelle suspects is a former black operations soldier turned mercenary. In the jungle they find a strange triangular obelisk, empty cages, plants with a neurotoxic poison that Edwin collects on a scalpel, and a deceased US Special Forces soldier with a large hole in his chest. Arriving at higher ground, they find themselves staring at an alien sky and realize that they are not on Earth, but an unknown planet.
As Stans threatens Mombasa for a gun, the group is attacked by a pack of quadruped alien beasts, but manage to kill some of them. Before the creatures kill the group, they are called off by a whistle and run off. The survivors regroup, but find Cuchillo missing. The group avoids a trap when something mimicking Cuchillo's voice tries to lure them close to his slumped corpse. Royce theorizes that they are on a planet used as a game preserve, where humans are hunted as game. The group follows the quadrupeds' tracks to a hunting encampment and find a captive Predator. Three larger cloaked Predators attack, revealed to be their hunters, killing Mombasa when he steps in a spear trap as the rest of the group escapes and hides behind a nearby waterfall. Isabelle reveals that she has heard of the Predators before, from a report by the only survivor of a Special Forces team who encountered one in Guatemala in 1987.
The group then meets Noland (Laurence Fishburne), a lone soldier who has survived on the planet for "10 seasons" by hiding and scavenging using the Predators' technology. He explains that the Predators sharpen their hunting skills by collecting warriors and dangerous beasts from other worlds and bringing them to this planet to hunt. Noland also reveals that the Predators hunt in threes, and that there is a blood feud between the larger Predators and the smaller ones. Royce hopes that if the group can free the smaller Predator being held prisoner at the encampment, it may help them get home using the other Predators' spaceship.
However, Noland, driven mad by years of isolation and looking to obtain the group's supplies, attempts to murder the group in a fire during the night. Royce uses an explosive to attract the Predators, who kill Noland. In the ensuing chase, the group is separated, and Nikolai sacrifices himself to kill one of the Predators using an explosive while the remaining five survivors escape. Stans savagely attacks a second Predator with his shiv to allow the others to escape, and is killed. Hanzo stays behind and duels the third Predator in a wide field with a katana, killing it at the cost of his own life.
Edwin is injured by a trap as he, Royce, and Isabelle head for the encampment. When Isabelle refuses to abandon him, Royce leaves them both behind and they are caught in a net by the remaining large Predator. Royce frees the smaller Predator and heads for the ship as the two Predators confront each other. The larger Predator kills the smaller one and then destroys the ship as it takes off. Meanwhile, Edwin paralyzes Isabelle with the neurotoxic poison on his scalpel and reveals that on Earth he was a murderer, and feels that he fits in on this planet among the monsters. Royce appears, never having boarded the ship, and realizes Edwin's true motives after seeing Isabelle paralyzed before stabbing the doctor in the chin with his own toxin-laced scalpel.
Royce booby-traps Edwin with grenades, using him as bait to disorient the Predator. A fight ensues in which Royce, who covers himself in mud to hide his body heat from the Predator's thermal vision technology, successfully decapitates the Predator. The next day, as Royce and Isabelle recover from their ordeal, they observe more prey parachuting into the jungle. Royce, surmising that more Predators will soon arrive to hunt the new prey, tells Isabelle that they must find another way to get off the planet, as they head into the jungle together.
The film was produced by Robert Rodriguez, and written by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch. In 1994, Rodriguez wrote an early script for the film for 20th Century Fox while he was working on Desperado. Rodriguez presented the script to the studio, but was denied when they realized that the budget would be too large. 15 years later, the studio decided to go with his script.
It's the story from that script I had written way back then. They had hired me to write a Predator story while I was waiting to do Desperado back in 1995. It was crazy, this thing I came up with. So then fast-forward to now and, like, six months ago, they found the script and called me up. 'Hey, we want to redo this franchise and we found your old script. This is where we should have gone with the series! We want to move forward.' And that's what we're doing.
In 2009, 20th Century Fox studio executive, Alex Young, called Rodriguez to consider using his treatment to revive the individual Predator franchise. The film was produced at Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios as opposed to 20th Century Fox so that Rodriguez had more creative control over the film. It was originally thought that Robert Rodriguez would direct, but on July 1, 2009, Nimród Antal was officially signed on to direct.
Rodriguez and Antal have expressed that they wanted this film to be a sequel only to the original Predator (while not necessarily discounting Predator 2), as the film is trying to distance itself from the two Alien vs. Predator films. Antal stated the reasoning behind the decision to dismiss the Alien vs Predator films was that he wanted the film to be closer in tone to the original Predator film, as the AVP films had taken the Predator series in a too outlandish direction.
At the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International Rodriguez stated that Predators would feature an ensemble cast, and that the most important element of the film would be "great characters so that the audience feels they're going on this journey with them". He also noted that the title had a double meaning, referring not only to the extraterrestrial hunters but also to the human characters, all of whom are dangerous killers. He and Antal wanted each of the characters to be well-developed enough to be able to stand alone. Rodriguez hoped to have Arnold Schwarzenegger play a cameo role as Dutch, his character from the original Predator film, but this ultimately did not happen.
The principal cast members of Predators are:
- Adrien Brody as Royce, an ex-military U.S. Army Special Forces soldier turned mercenary who reluctantly assumes leadership of the group of humans. Brody claimed he had been "blown away" by Predator and viewed his role as a challenge, wanting to bring a complexity to the character that would contrast with Schwarzenegger's role in the original film. He did put on twenty-five pounds (11 kg) of muscle for the role, stating that "I want it to be entertaining and part of the ride that people see when they see a movie like that. But that's not really why I'm in it and that's not really what I brought to it. I brought the same kind of discipline that I would to a film like The Pianist." Antal and Rodriguez specifically wanted to avoid casting an actor physically similar to Schwarzenegger, wanting to "go in a very different direction" and reasoning that real-life soldiers are wiry and tough rather than burly. "We thought casting a physically 'Schwarzenegger-esque' character would have done the original film a disservice", said Antal, "and would have done this film a disservice because we are not trying to remake or copy the original film. I told everybody early on that I can make anybody look tough. What I can't do is teach them how to act". Brody has expressed interest in reprising his role in future sequels.
- Alice Braga as Isabelle, a sniper from the Israel Defense Force. She failed to save her spotter during a mission, and feels that she has been brought to the alien planet as punishment and to seek redemption. As the only female character, Isabelle plays the role of peacemaker: "My character, funny enough," said Braga, "is the one that is always trying to grab everyone together and like reuniting everyone and stop[ping] the fights and saying that we have strength in numbers." Braga described the character as "a tough cookie ... sweet inside but tough outside". She read a sniper manual to prepare for the role, and carried a fourteen-pound sniper rifle during shooting.
- Topher Grace as Edwin, a doctor who does not seem to belong amongst the group of hardened killers until he reveals that he is a psychopathic murderer. Grace was dubious about taking the role when he read the script, "because I really liked the first Predator, but all the sequels haven't been as good. Then when I read this, I thought, 'What Aliens was to Alien, this is to Predator'. Because Predator never really got its due; it never really got that sequel." He compared Antal's approach to that of James Cameron, director of Aliens; remaining faithful to the original work but taking the concepts in slightly different directions. Grace performed some of his own stunts, including jumping off a waterfall.
- Walton Goggins as Stans, a death row inmate from San Quentin State Prison who was scheduled to be executed in two days before suddenly finding himself on the alien planet. Responsible for 38 murders and also strongly implied to be a rapist.
- Oleg Taktarov as Nikolai, a Russian commando from the Spetsnaz Alpha Group who was fighting in Chechnya before finding himself on the alien planet. Taktarov, a retired mixed martial artist and former Ultimate Fighting Champion, described his role as combining elements of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, and Bill Duke's characters from the original Predator film, and praised it as "the first time you get a really, really, positive, good Russian character in an American [film]". Taktarov used his martial arts training during some of the film's action sequences. While filming a scene he hit his face on a steadicam and was bleeding, but continued filming because the blood added to the effect of the scene.
- Louis Ozawa Changchien as Hanzo, a Yakuza enforcer who rarely speaks and reveals late in the film that he is missing his leftmost two fingers, having performed yubitsume. "I guess he used to be a guy who can murder someone without a qualm," said Changchien of the character, "but by the time he arrives [on the alien planet], he'll no longer be that kind of person. Those things aren't explained in the script, but you'll get it when you see the movie." Changchien used his kendo training for a scene in which his character uses a katana in a duel against a Predator. Antal, a kendo fan, insisted that the swordfight looks authentic.
- Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as Mombasa, a Sierra Leone Revolutionary United Front death squad soldier.
- Danny Trejo as Cuchillo, a ruthless enforcer for the Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel who carries twin submachine guns.
- Laurence Fishburne as Noland, a United States Army Air Cavalry soldier who has survived on the alien planet for multiple hunting cycles. "It's a really interesting role," said Fishburne, "quite different from Morpheus [from The Matrix]. He's a bit shady, crazy, surviving on his own, kind of a ratty character."
The four Predators in the film are portrayed by Derek Mears, Carey Jones, and Brian Steele. The Predators are identified in the film's credits as the "Classic Predator", "Tracker Predator", "Falconer Predator", and "Berserker Predator". Mears plays the Classic Predator, designed to resemble the creature in the original Predator film. Steele plays the Berserker and Falconer Predators, two of the larger Predators hunting the humans. The Berserker Predator is identified by an alien mandible attached to its helmet and faces off against Royce in the film's climax, while the Falconer Predator controls a flying reconnaissance drone and is killed by Hanzo. Jones plays the Tracker Predator, identified by a pair of tusks attached to its helmet, which controls the quadrupedal hunting animals and is killed by Nikolai. Jones also doubled for Steele in some scenes as the Berserker and Falconer Predators.
The film was shot on a 53-day schedule. Exterior filming location was mostly set in Kolekole, Hawaii. Filming started on September 28, 2009. The film wrapped up its 22-day shoot on the Hawaii location on November 1, 2009. The film shot its interior set scenes at Robert Rodriguez's studio in Austin, Texas. 60% of the film was shot in Texas in order to be eligible for a tax benefit. The film shot more exterior footage at Canyon Lake Gorge in Comal County.
It was a blast. It was an amazing experience. We were in the tropical rainforests of Hawaii stomping through the mud and getting rained on all day and then we ended up finishing in Austin, Texas. I really think this movie is going to be good. They had cut together a trailer while we were still working and it looked amazing. It's a great cast and along with the action elements and the sci-fi elements, and with Robert Rodriguez being involved, I think it's going to push it to another level—Actor Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, 411mania interview
Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis, head of special effects studio Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc (ADI), who previously worked on 2004's Alien vs. Predator and 2007's Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem did not return for the creature design of Predators, nor did Stan Winston Studios. Instead, KNB EFX's Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero took over building the creature suits. Berger, who worked with Winston on the original Predator, stated that the studio is reprising the original Stan Winston design of the Predator in the film, saying "We wanted to have the Predator look as it did in the original film. We went back and looked at the original...everyone's going to be very happy that we've been very faithful to the Stan Winston designs." In addition to the original Predator designs, the film features many new creatures never before seen in a Predator film, such as a new breed of Predators that belong to a different tribe, alien creatures that have been domesticated by the Predators for use in hunting, and other alien creatures that have been brought to the planet by the Predators to be used as prey.
There had been speculation that original Predator composer Alan Silvestri would return to do the score, but on February 26, 2010, it was announced that John Debney, who worked with Rodriguez on such films as Spy Kids and Sin City, would compose the original score for the film.
Rodriguez shared his thoughts on how the score should play out saying:
I think we're going to go for something that fits the tone of the movie really well. That original score went great with the movie, but the notes and the music do really evoke a quality – you know, when he (Debney) showed me his rough cut, or some scenes, every once in a while at the right moment I started hearing strings from the score – because we had a temp score, and it really works.... So we'll probably incorporate some of that. At the right time, because you don't want to overuse it. But it's like the James Bond theme – you can't use it all of the time, but when you do, you can get the audience really, really pumped.
Debney was honored to be part of the Predators franchise, saying:
When I first learned that Robert Rodriguez and Fox studios were planning a re-boot of one of my favorite films of all time, 'Predator', I was thrilled. Having worked with Robert on four films previously, I knew that if anyone could do justice to a remake such as this, it would be Robert. Learning that Nimród Antal was going to be the director, I was doubly thrilled and knew I had to be a part of this one.
Debney recorded many custom sounds and instruments, including Tibetan long horns to create squeals and screams. He also manipulated metal scrapes and ethnic percussion to further highlight the advanced yet brutal and primitive quality of the Predators and their world. Debney also put up a sneak-peek of one of the Predators scoring sessions. La-La Land Records released the original score for the film on August 10, 2010. The song "Long Tall Sally" by Little Richard plays during the credits; it was also used in the original Predator film.
It was announced on March 3, 2010, that Robert Rodriguez and Nimród Antal would reveal a "first look" at Predators at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas on March 12, at 10:15pm. Rodriguez expressed his excitement about the event, saying, "My director Nimród Antal and I are excited to bring this first look at Predators to Austin's SXSW Film Festival, an event that's become vital to the filmmaking scene. Austin is my home and I'm proud that Predators was conceived and filmed here."
Released on July 9, 2010, in the United States, Predators opened with $10 million on Friday. The film came in at #3 at the US box office and pulled in $24.7m during its first weekend, behind Despicable Me and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The film was released internationally on July 8, 2010 and had its biggest success in the markets of the UK and Ireland with $6.8m and Japan with $6.3m. The film has grossed $52,000,688 in the United States and $75,233,701 internationally, generating $127,234,389 worldwide.
Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 64% based on 187 reviews, with an average score of 5.8/10. The site's critical consensus is: "After a string of subpar sequels, this bloody, action-packed reboot takes the Predator franchise back to its testosterone-fueled roots." Another review aggregation website Metacritic gave the film a score of 51 out of 100 indicating mixed reviews, based on 30 reviews from selected mainstream critics.
A. O. Scott of The New York Times said that, "Antal is a good enough action director that some of the combat is pretty exciting." On the other hand, Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune wrote that, "When the story relocates to the Fishburne character's grimy, claustrophobic domicile, the movie turns static. The filmmakers may have been going for an Alien industrial-grunge vibe, but the tension just isn't sufficient."
The primary complaint leveled against the film is the failure, as film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times described, of the cast to capture the "quiet suspense" of the original Predator film. Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly complained that the film's characters were more like "cardboard clichés lining up for the body count" than real action heroes.
Lou Lumenick of the New York Post gave the film a positive review by stating that, "After 23 years and three attempts, Predators finally delivers a solid sequel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger B-movie classic." He also added that, "It's not exactly hard to predict who the survivors will be at the end of Predators, but it's a fun ride."
A four issue tie-in Predators comic book by Dark Horse Comics was released on June 9 to promote the release of the film. The comic series will serve as a prequel, adaptation, and sequel to the events depicted in the film. The comics show more back story of the characters Royce and Isabelle than is depicted in the film. One such comic follows a team of Navy SEALs in the midst of a firefight when suddenly they awaken to find themselves in a new and more deadly environment being stalked by a strange enemy. One by one these special-ops officers are killed by the unseen threat, until only one man remains.
On July 9, 2010, NECA released the Classic Predator, Falconer Predator, and Berserker Predator action figures. NECA released a second series of figures in December 2010, consisting of a masked Classic Predator, an unmasked Berserker Predator, and the Tracker Predator. The Predator hound was released in March 2011. Hot Toys and Sideshow Collectibles have also created props, maquettes and figures for the film.
Downloadable games publisher Chillingo has secured a licensing agreement with Fox Digital Entertainment to publish the official Predators video game for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad through Apple's App Store and for Mac through Apple's Mac App Store . The game was developed by independent game developer Angry Mob Games and was available in time for the film’s theatrical release.
Predators was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats on October 19, 2010. Both releases include commentary tracks by Robert Rodriguez and Nimród Antal, motion comics, and behind-the-scenes-features. The Blu-ray edition includes additional behind-the-scenes features as well as deleted and extended scenes.
Nimród Antal has talked about a sequel and said he would love to do one. Rodriguez has said that he has interest in a sequel because of the large number of potential ideas the Predator planet setting provides:
There are so many great ideas... Just following Laurence Fishburne's character (Noland) around in a prequel would be a great movie. Just the tales he tells in this movie alone, I want to see those experiences... That's why I wasn't precious even about the original script I had, because once you come up with the idea of a Predator Planet, that Predators use as their hunting grounds and humans are involved somehow, the story ideas that you can come up with are so numerous that you can come up with any approach. So we already have several ideas that we can go with for a sequel. They would all be good ideas but we would probably put them together to see which one rises to the top, if we made another one.
Rodriguez confirms that there will be a Predators sequel:
"[The studio] said, 'Let's do some other ones. What other story ideas do you have?'" says the filmmaker. "Because it was like, let's test out the market with this one. They really wanted it to be pretty contained, pretty scaled-back. They didn't want to put too many of the ideas into it that we could save for a second one. So we could see what the appetite was, because the bigger movie would actually be what comes following that. That kind of sets up a new storyline, new location and world, and then you can really go crazy from there."
Adrien Brody also spoke about reprising his role in a possible sequel:
"I think a lot of that is determined by the success of the film. And I don't think that far ahead. The idea of reprising the role and going farther into that character is interesting to me… It would be exciting to watch a character progress or deteriorate. That's exciting for an actor. I thoroughly enjoyed playing Royce. Again, part of the attraction is I'm oddly drawn to material that affects me on an emotional level, and characters that are dealing with things that are challenging that I would question, that I'm not so familiar with. Royce has his emotional arc in this that most of the characters I've played don't come close to possessing. That's an interesting thing to cultivate."
- British Board of Film Classification - Film - Predators - Running time: 106m 49s
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