It’s a standard element of horror movies: the Monster Pause. The alien/werewolf/knifeopath has kung-fu reflexes when inhuming secondary characters, but when confronting the main character(s) the mutant/vampire/cannibal slows it’s attack, or pauses dramatically or sadistically, or does a huge wind up to the killing stroke. This allows the protagonist to escape or hit the detonate button or stab the fiendish thingie with a weathervane. (This may also create a moment where the hero/heroine may elocute a final wisecrack through gritted teeth.)
Predators exaggerates the Monster Pause into actual film structure – the foldable-fang-faced predators of the movie gradually slow down their lethalness as the film progresses so that when Adrian Brody, playing a mercenary who might be named Stoic Gravelvoice, has a final confrontation with the last monster, it seems to be stunned into stupidity and slow-motion from recognizing an Oscar winner.
The first thirty minutes of Predators is compelling; a multicultural group of killers and mercs find themselves free-falling into a jungle and gradually figure out that they’ve been relocated to an alien world as the lions for a big game hunt. The cast -- including Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Alice Braga, and Walter Goggins in his credible smirky psycho mode – means that this version is much more watchable than the Schwarzenegger original. The interesting problems of reorientation and survival -- and the possibility that this dangerous bunch of humans might find a way to work together to defeat the predators -- are tossed out and replaced by gore, shock kills, and lots of running about as soon as the hunt begins.
There’s a certain lack of imagination here, sadly common in science fiction films. The speculative setting and concept are just that, not integrated into the plot and the problem-solving that the characters have to deal with. It’s a slasher film on another planet – and sadly that’s what many audience members are happy with.
(And could they have talked to someone about the planetary physics? A leaf spins rapidly in a pool, suggesting a wonky coriolis effect, meaning what? A superfast planetary spin? Then why doesn’t the planet seem to move in relation to the sun --and why then do we finally get night? A look at the sky shows other huge nearby planets – which would cause insane tidal effects – and mean that the jungle would not look like an earthly jungle. And if, as it’s suggested, they’re on a much larger planet than earth, then why aren’t the humans feeling the effects of more gravity?)
But back to the Monster Pause – or in this case the lingering (and possible malingering) of predators. There is no sense to their actions as hunters. They seem to be looking for game that fights back, and the earlier films tell us that they don’t kill the unarmed. But why let the humans get away when they can blast them at any point? And if they want to make it a challenge, why use high tech invisibility screens and energy weapons? You’re already bigger than the humans – grab some spears and go for it. (Which reminds me – one set piece that has potential is the sword battle with the Yakuza assassin versus a predator. This is undermined by having a predator that seems to be moving a lot slower than the human, yet still cutting him up.) They seem to enjoy watching their prey try to survive, panic, and maybe turn on each other, and they’re obviously bloody minded sadists. But their lack of logic seems to be written off as not understandable because they are aliens, or that they are working on evolving their technology through combat, or other such nonsense that is hard to buy.
The hunting and killing are done for effect – each death is a set piece that doesn’t follow any sensible pattern that would actually create suspense. And without suspense we're just left with some nice visuals and tension free action. Contrast this with a film like Aliens, where the creatures hunt to feed and reproduce and don’t pause for their close-ups.