Prey is the latest in a long line of Predator sequels, now available to watch on Disney+. With the action moving to 300 years before the original film, Prey has a lot to live up to and also a number of fairly horrific sequels to surpass. The end result is the best attempt we’ve seen in recent years, but still a far cry from the original.
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane), Prey is set in 1719 in the Northern Great Plains. Comanche Naru (Amber Midthunder) is a wannabe warrior and hunter whose tribe believes she should leave the hunting to the men and concentrate on being a healer. While out collecting herbs, Naru runs off to practice her hunting with the aid of her trusted dog Sarii. She witnesses a disturbance in the sky, which unbeknownst to her is a spaceship dropping off a Predator.
Later that day, a tribe member is missing after being attacked by a mountain lion. Naru’s brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) leads a search party and agrees that Naru can join them, with her tracking abilities locating the missing man. On the hunt for the lion, Naru realises that the lion isn’t the only hunter out there as she picks up on tracks made by the Predator, who has been observing them and collecting skulls from local predatory species. Taabe and Naru tackle the lion, and after Naru weakens it and then gets knocked unconscious, Taabe kills the lion and takes the honour from the tribe.
The next day, Naru heads off with Sarii in secret to tackle the Predator. She comes across a herd of skinned bison and is then attacked by a grizzly bear. As she’s cornered by the bear, it is assaulted by an invisible attacker and Naru watches in horror as it overpowers and kills the bear. She flees, only to be captured by a pack of Comanche hunters who have been tasked with bringing her home. However, it isn’t long until the Predator tracks them down and Naru must fight to survive and also prove herself to her tribe.
Prey is a beautiful-looking film. The cinematography is stunning, with some amazing-looking landscapes and the Comanche set and costume design are very well done. The styling is let down a little by the CGI, as most of it just isn’t very good and I found the shots of the Predator in his stealth mode to be rather grating after a while as there were just too many scenes with him like this. I also found the design of the Predator itself to be a little questionable. This is rightly meant to be a less evolved version of the Predator we know so well, but for me, it just didn’t look quite right. The downgraded, less evolved but still high-tech weapons were good, but the rest didn’t thrill me.
Naru is an engaging lead character. I enjoyed the relationship she had with her brother, there are some great performances here and I would’ve loved to have seen more of the sibling dynamic. One of the best parts of the film is a conversation between the two siblings that has a wonderful nod to the original film. The show however is stolen by the dog Sarii, who is absolutely adorable and a delight to watch. I also really enjoyed the fight scenes that are quick and brutal, and full of a wonderful amount of blood and gore.
My biggest issue with this film is the plot. While I enjoyed the Comanche setting, pitting a group of axe-wielding primitives against a technologically advanced race like the Predator just seems a bit silly. Especially when the lead character Naru goes from being rather inept at hunting, showing an ability to catch any of the less powerful animals she tries to track, to someone powerful enough to take on a Predator. It all feels a bit ridiculous, especially considering the number of bodies the Predator manages to stack up across such a short run time. It’s a shame as I really loved Naru as a powerful, kick-ass female lead, but she’s let down by the rather farfetched story.
Prey is a good entry into the Predator universe and far surpasses any of the other sequels. But it still isn’t a patch on the original.
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!