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Set in the Comanche Nation in the Great Plains of 1719, young Native American Warrior Naru is determined to prove herself by hunting and killing the growing threats to her tribe. It’s not long before we see what she is really up against, a highly intelligent technologically advanced extraterrestrial: Predator.
Amber Midthunder (Legion) stars in the lead role as Naru. Dan Trachtenberg of 10 Cloverfield Lane directs (more recently he’s directed The Boys and Black Mirror episodes).Most of the cast including Midthunder are of Native American descent, and producer Jhane Myers is a member of the Comanche Nation.
Out of all the Predator films in the popular franchise, which date back to the 1987 original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, there are only a few I would highly recommend. Prey makes the list.
At first glance, you have to wonder: who is this small-framed Naru who can’t possibly stand a chance against a massive technologically advanced alien?
But as you watch the film through to its final act, you understand. The film takes us into Naru’s backstory to set the stakes: A fierce young Comanche, she’s a healer who grew up in the shadow of her brother Taabe, a warrior leader, and she bristles against the more limiting role forced upon her. More than anything she wants to be a hunter like her brother. As the actress Midthunder has pointed out in press for the film, there were actually female warrior societies in many Native American tribes – including Comanches – so her origin story is rooted in history.
Midthunder is great choice for the lead. Her tenacity and bravery are visceral as she faces off against Earthly apex predators of the wild, French settlers posing as threats to her tribe, and (let’s not forget the reason we’re here) The Predator itself. The fight choreography is fluid and felt raw, and one of the best parts of the film is witnessing how Naru develops the skills to ultimately take on the Predator one-on-one – in an epic tribute to the original as it replicates the match between the Predator and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Director Trachtenberg sets the tone with a dark color palette and immerses us into spectacular vast forest environments. Scenes are clearly designed to suck you in. At one point, Naru is being chased by a huge bear, and just as she (and the audience) thinks she’s met her end, we’re dropped into the experience from Naru’s point of view and witness the horror right alongside her.
I’d describe the kills in this film as a combination of brutality we’d see in war films mixed with the same blood and gore we’ve seen in this franchise’s predecessors. Watching the Predator fight other beasts from the wild also made for some intensely fierce action scenes.
The look of the Predator was primitive, but although his weaponry was more advanced than the humans’, it wasn’t the same quality we see in the future (or past films…the timeline can be tricky, stay with me). This forces the viewer to recognize the evolution of the Predator. It’s one of the ugliest predators I’ve seen in the franchise but, like I said, it’s a more primitive version of the character. The Predator takes a good amount of damage from animals and nature, making the audience aware that it is not from this planet. The beast is learning as it goes along and uses a more hands on approach when fighting his enemies.
In the final act, I found myself cheering for Naru and hoping she’d emerge the victor unscathed – but there were definitely times I didn’t think it’d end that way. Trust me, it’s decent match between the two.
An action-packed and gory callback to its original film, Predator, Prey brings a fresh twist on the story. It builds slowly to develop character backstories but crescendos in an epic battle that will keep you glued to the screen and rooting for the unlikely protagonist.
This one is for fans of the Alien vs Predator franchise. But with the original take and point of view of a young female Comanche in precolonial America, it’s also a draw to newcomers.
Caution: there is A LOT of blood and gore in this film. Watch out for some easter eggs in this film that are seen in previous films (which are actually set in the future of the Predator universe).
What to watch after: To cleanse your brain palette, chase this one with The World’s End, a more comedic take on an extraterrestrial invader showdown — albeit with middle-aged pub crawlers (led by actor Simon Pegg).