Hollywood has a serious problem. It seems to be drowning in action franchises, reboots, and remakes. Quantity doesn’t often mean quality as a lot of these films tend to fall short of the original films they were trying to emulate. When Prey was announced it seemed like a new, drastic change to the often futuristic set of films. This new change left fans wondering if ti would be a repeat of The Predator’s (2018) past mistakes.
Then it was released and the fans could breathe a sigh of relief. Prey is a welcomed change of pace that takes the franchise into uncharted territory. Taking place in 18th century Canada Prey provides a thrilling new instalment of the Predator franchise that mirrors the original in terms of quality, character, and story. Having a strong lead character the film takes a simple story and turns it into a brilliant film.
Naru is a young Comanche woman who wants to prove herself as a warrior to both her family and her village. When a Predator lands on the Great Plains, she goes on a journey where she will have to become a hunter or become the hunted. The alien isn’t the only danger she faces as new dangers not only threaten her land but her people.
Characters of Prey
The Predator movies are known for normally having a big ensemble of characters, taking a traditional team format. Prey deviates from that format altogether choosing to focus on one main character. In this film, it’s Naru. Actress Amber Midthunder has to carry the majority of the movie by herself and she does a phenomenal job of it. Naru’s journey is a clear but compelling one, a young girl fighting to be taken seriously in a patriarchal society. She conveys every emotion perfectly and gives a stellar performance.
The film devotes a majority of its run time to developing her and showing her progression as she grows to become a true warrior. If this movie had come out in the 90s she would have been in the horror action hall of fame, right between Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor. With her quick thinking and resourcefulness, she makes an evenly matched foe for the Predator.
With all of the focus being on Naru’s character, it does mean that some of the other characters don’t receive the same love and attention. Most of these characters end up being bloody cannon fodder to the Predator so it’s not a big deal that they didn’t get as much development. Their deaths provide the movie with some imaginative kills and creative action.
The only other character who gets adequate development is Naru’s brother, Taabe. Unlike the others in the village, he wants Naru to succeed in completing her Kühtaamia. It’s refreshing to see someone support Naru in wanting to break away from the traditionally female jobs of the tribe. The relationship feels genuine and it’s easy to root for both of them to survive the night.
The Action of Prey
The action flows well, it’s always clear to the viewer what is happening and with who. Even though the Predator has the upper hand with his technology the fights never feel truly one-sided. This film utilises a lot of the different weaponry of the time. From the Comanche weapons to the impending invader’s guns and swords. All of this still proving to be only minimally effective against the Predator’s multiple future technologies.
The Predator himself is a deadly weapon. An alien warrior who lives for the thrill of the hunt. The Predator (Played by Dane DiLiegro) is a truly ruthless villain. It’s shown slashing through multiple enemies and claiming its hunting trophies with ease. They use every scene to show his power, starting with him collecting smaller, animal prey and eventually working up to multiple human trophies.
He provides a true cat and mouse feel to the first half of the movie. If Naru leaves a location the Predator will wander through it in the next scene. He’s constantly closing the gap until the two finally meet. Just because he’s tough doesn’t mean he’s invincible. As the famous Predator quote goes “If it bleeds. We can kill it.”
Other notes about Prey
This film is easily the best since the original. It resonates with the themes of the original story while still taking it in a new and original direction. It isn’t necessary to watch any previous films to understand this one. Going back and rewatching the other movies will help in understanding the subtle easter eggs and references to previous movies.
What I believe also added to the film’s success was the filmmakers behind it. The film is all about Native American culture. Most of the main actors are Native Americans, it was filmed on the grounds of the Stoney Nadoka Nation and even has a version of the film available in a Comanche language dub. Hollywood has been in desperate need of actual, impactful diversity and Prey delivers on all fronts. Hopefully, Prey’s critical success will pave the way for future filmmakers to be more inclusive with their stories and their casting.
Prey is a sci-fi action thriller that presents an intense game of hunt or be hunted. It’s a well-crafted story that is a breath of fresh air to the Predator franchise after years of mediocrity. Blending great action sequences and genuine emotions it’s a wonderful film that was deserving of a cinematic release.