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Stars: Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, Laurence Fishburne, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Danny Trejo

Director: Nimród Antal

This punchy addition to the horror series restores the human element largely missing from the films since the 1987 original - and the action is all the better for it.

Eight 'warriors', all killers of one kind or another, are parachuted on to an alien planet - the how and why of this rationale is the film's outstanding weakness - and soon come to realise that they are there as prey for the new, stronger breed of predators that rule the planet.

Their trek through unfamiliar jungle quickly becomes a losing battle for survival.

The personalities of these anti-heroes are quickly but effectively sketched in: a beefed-up Brody, with a decent haircut at last, is surprisingly successful and authoritative as the leader, Alice Braga is an Israeli death squad member, Topher Grace a too-wholesome doctor, and Walton Goggins - Shane from The Shield - a mass murderer yanked from Death Row. There's a samurai warrior and a Russian mercenary, plus the distinctively pockmarked features of Trejo, who disappears all too early.

The trick here is to keep the action going without too many conversational lulls. Atoning for the routineness of his previous film, Armored, director Antal achieves this in spades, not even allowing the introduction of Fishburne as a sort of Ben Gunn-style survivor from previous 'landings' to slow down the tension and excitement, all of which is never less than convincing.

With Brody barking out orders like Clint Eastwood, and a pretty decent script that almost entirely avoids unintentional giggles - although Brody's claim of 'You do what you have to do to survive' seems pretty obvious given the situation - this is prime fare for fans of hard-hitting sci-fi horror, who can also have fun guessing in which order the 'magnificent eight' get killed.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by deluxe.
107 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 06 Jul 2010