Restores the Predator’s simple, yet entertaining concept of perseverance against seemingly impossible odds.
Prey is the latest addition to the Predator franchise and serves as a prequel to the first four mainline films. An origin story about one of the first Predators to land on Earth and hunt humans, the film focuses on a highly skilled, female Comanche hunter who must fight the Predator in order to protect her tribe.
The first two Predator films released in 1987 and 1990 follow a simple yet highly entertaining premise: an alien comes to Earth on safari to hunt humans to collect trophies. However, the third and fourth films complicated this premise – along with the Alien vs Predator spin offs – which never hit the mark and soiled the franchise. Well, I’m happy to report Prey has gone back to the roots and simplicity of what made the first two Predator films so great and has set the franchise back on track.
The year is 1719 and Naru (Amber Midthunder), a young, tenacious Comanche woman trained as a healer, dreams of becoming a hunter like her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers). One day she sees an object sailing through the sky and interprets it as a sign she’s ready to prove to herself and her tribe that she can become a hunter. After assisting a search party with finding a member of their tribe who was taken by a cougar, Naru stumbles across signs of an unfamiliar creature that hunts in their lands.
Despite being an unproven hunter, Naru is determined to find what she views as a new threat to her people. With her dog Sarii by her side she embarks on a quest to track down this new and unfamiliar creature using her exceptional tracking skills and knowledge of the land. Mother nature and an encounter with Europeans quickly tests her survival skills as she ventures into new territory to hunt her prey, however it may not be enough to prepare her for the extraterrestrial adversary who is hunting her in return.
Amber Midthunder gives a strong performance of a woman who won’t accept what society expects of her while still maintaining a level of respect for her family and people. She carries out the duties required of her but makes time to focus on the things she’s truly passionate about – like perfecting her axe throwing.
She isn’t as physically strong as the men around her, who belittle and ignore her keen observations, however her determination is unrivaled by any other. Midthunder masterfully brings to life this very capable character who may not have the physique to physically go toe-to-toe with a Predator like Schwarzenegger did in the first film, but has the strength of character coupled with strategic intelligence to take on the creature instead.
Only his second film (after 10 Cloverfield Lane), director Dan Trachtenberg has brought hope back to the Predator franchise with Prey. After numerous crappy sequels and spin-offs, somebody finally understands the Predator franchise and made a decent film. I would almost call it a perfect Predator film, however the CGI animals look poor and a few plot points – which I won’t mention as they’re spoilers – tarnish the overall film.
Trachtenberg understands that a Predator movie doesn’t have to be “big” or complicated or “more” than the previous film in the franchise. You don’t need to introduce a newer, bigger, crazier creature design or bombard the audience with unnecessary action or try to come up with a bigger, convoluted, nonsense storyline to try to expand the premise.
The main idea about Predator is the hunt. Specially, the hunting of human beings for sport by technologically superior beings from another planet. Earth is their African hunting safari. That’s it. And they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years and will continue to do so. Trechtenberg understands this and delivered a movie that sticks to the basics and never deviates from this idea. It’s awesome.
Even the way the story is told just goes backs to basics. We’re introduced to a character who wants more for herself than society has dictated for her. We learn of her strengths and her weaknesses and the skills that she possesses that will make up for her physical shortcoming when she eventually faces the creature. We’re slowly introduced to the creature until we finally reach a point where our hero and villain can come face to face. It’s not rocket science. Trachentberg understands his hero isn’t Schwarzenegger and builds a story that allows our underdog a fighting chance.
Prey is a worthy addition to the Predator franchise, easily the best since the first two films, as it returns the basic simplicity of the concept while forging its own identity. With beautiful scenery, impressive violence with an equally impressive “primitive” Predator design, and a truly breakout performance by Amber Midthunder in the lead it’s a pity this movie didn’t get a cinematic release and is instead limited to streaming services. This one deserved the big screen treatment.
- MPAA Rating: R
- Release Date: August 5, 2022
- Distributor: Hulu
Originally published on August 11, 2022 at https://www.popzara.com/movies/vod-reviews/prey-2022/