By Chris Nashawaty
July 12, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT
Rico Torres



Back in 1987, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, and their impossibly large biceps strapped on some serious firepower and headed into the Guatemalan jungle to tangle with an invisible alien killing machine known to red-meat action aficionados as the Predator. Now, 23 years later, comes Predators an entirely unnecessary new installment in the sci-fi splatter cycle directed by Vacancy‘s Nimrod Antal from an ancient Robert Rodriguez script that Fox should have left in mothballs. Here’s the set-up: A nasty bunch of criminals, mercenaries, and Yakuza types get shipped off to a distant planet only to find out that they’re human prey for everybody’s favorite dreadlocked, pincer-faced, spinal cord-extracting beasties. Think of it as Avatar with more gore, a lot less wit, and Adrien Brody (and his Situation-like abs) as the alpha-male leader of a doomed pack of tough guys, gruffly barking orders as he tries to get inside the mind of you know who. Topher Grace does his signature smart-ass quipster thing, Alice Braga is the tough chick with a big heart, and Laurence Fishburne drops by to lend the film its only bit of unpredictable fun as a loco, Kurtz-like soldier of fortune who’s gone native. These aren’t characters, they’re cardboard clichés lining up for the body count. As a fan of Schwarzenegger’s macho, heart-of-darkness original, it gives me no pleasure to say that Predators is an uninspired mess of mediocre action scenes strung together until the final reel. But it gives me even less pleasure to add that that final reel leaves room for a sequel. The horror. C-

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