Universal Pictures | June 10, 2022 | 146 Mins. | Action, Sci-Fi, Adventure
PREY (2022) l Star/Disney+ | August 5, 2022 | 87 Mins.
The origin story of the Predator in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. Naru, a skilled female warrior, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth.
REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
Prey is without a doubt the best Predator movie since the original thanks to brutal but outstanding action and a strong performance from Amber Midthunder.
There have been countless sequels to 1987’s Predator, but not a single one of those films has come close to capturing the action or excitement of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic science fiction action film. And now four years since the last reboot attempt, it’s time for this franchise to be unearthed once again. However, unlike the past two attempts by 20th Century Studios to reboot this valuable piece of intellectual property, director Dan Trachtenberg and writer Patrick Aison finally capture the visceral excitement that made the original film a hit with audiences.
Set during 1719 America in the world of Comanche Nation, this iteration of Predator follows Naru, a young female warrior, as she fights to protect her tribe from an unknown, alien threat that is hunting them. The film largely follows the structure of the original film, with the first half of the film following our main character as she explores the wild as the Predator is slowly gaining its bearings and begins tracking Naru down. It’s a slow start, building the suspense and tension as you watch the Predator pick up Naru’s scent and follow her and her tribe through the forest.
However, it pays off when the film enters its second half and the action begins. The action sequences are brutal as the Predator stalks and kills its prey, fully earning its R rating within seconds of the first kill by the Predator. At times it shows the violence head on, but there are lots of shots that imply the violence without showing it, instead allowing the audience to imagine the brutality of it based on the sounds they hear. It’s the perfect balance between gore fest and alluding to the violence, allowing the film to maintain the suspense and horror without turning into something designed to merely gross the audience out.
Aiding in the intensity of the action sequences is some beautiful cinematography that captures the large scale vision of the film, most notably in the third act with the big attack on the French set in a burnt down forest. But it’s the final showdown between Naru and the Predator that is the most exciting, with the brutal action in darkness as the snow falls and the Predator’s green blood flies across the screen. It’s a truly beautiful looking sequence that feels like it was made for the big screen. Beyond the cinematography in the action sequences, the landscapes of Alberta come to life and look phenomenal on screen.
While these elements do help the film feel more grand, the story is simple and could have benefited from some more character development. We are introduced to Naru, portrayed excellently by Amber Midthunder who brings a great fierceness and determination to the role that makes Naru the perfect lead for this film. We see her struggling to break free of the traditional female role in her tribe, despite its men not accepting her and her hunting talents. Midthunder makes the film her own, taking the audience on a harrowing adventure with her character as you feel her pain and energy as she tries to protect her tribe from the deadly alien visitor tracking them down. While she has mainly been in television before, this is destined to be her big breakout role, solidifying her as the film star she is. The rest of the cast is fine, but the film really only provides a one character narrative, never taking the focus off of Naru and prevents any other character from developing. This is a slight narrative problem as you fail to grow any attachment to other characters and prevent subplots from developing, but given that this is a Predator film, a single track narrative delivers exactly what fans of this franchise want: Predator carnage.
Though the question is, is Prey better than the original science fiction classic that launched this franchise? While some will commend Prey for its striking visuals, female protagonist and honest depiction of the Comanche Nation, this one fails to top the original. Largely because the original had Arnold Schwarzenegger facing off against the Predator, which is one the most exciting action sequences of the 80s and is something you cannot top, no matter how great of a film Prey is. Thanks to the outstanding vision of Dan Trachtenberg, Prey reinvigorates the Predator franchise with a thrilling new entry thanks to stunning visuals, brutal and exciting action, and an excellent performance from Amber Midthunder that is the perfect tribute to the original science fiction classic.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5