Have you heard the one about the folks who are chased and killed for sport in the jungle? (Actually, you have, when it was called The Most Dangerous Game.) How about the one where the big-name film studio wisely rebooted a franchise instead of grinding it into the ground? No longer content to simply pit Predator’s interstellar hunters against H.R. Giger’s aliens in argument-settling grudge matches, Twentieth Century Fox essentially returns the series to square one. A motley crew of military commandos—plus a yakuza, a Mexican Mafia thug and a dorky doctor—find themselves on an extraterrestrial game preserve, stalked by you know who. With these sorts of simplistic do-overs, you either bring on big-budget bloat, or make the kind of lean, mean genre machine that John Carpenter used to create in his sleep (and, in an ideal world, would be churning out regularly).
Thank you, Fox, for choosing the latter. Kudos to nouveau termite artist Nimrd Antal (Armored) and producer Robert Rodriguez for turning what could have been another cheap retread into a tightly wound, back-to-basics sci-fi action flick. Tough guys (and one take-no-shit female) clench their jaws and unleash massive firepower; cat-and-mouse games play out with minimum fuss and maximum carnage. The odor of musty, late-’80s nostalgia may still hover around this already threadbare brand, but you simply don’t see movies that leave both the curious and the fans who truly care this viscerally satisfied anymore.—David Fear
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