The Predator movies have been uneven at best, and a terrible mar on cinema at worst. Director Dan Trachtenberg sought to bring the franchise back to its glory days with his new film Prey (2022), and he succeeds in almost every way. There are references to the first film, awesome set pieces, and – the most pleasant surprise -this film has something to say. The only problem with Prey is that it isn’t getting a theatrical release – but Hulu subscribers should rejoice, as they’ll get their opportunity to watch it on August 5th.
Naru (Amber Midthunder) is a skilled female Commanche warrior determined to prove herself to her tribe – especially her brother, Itsee (Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat). She discovers tracks that are unfamiliar to anyone and soon learns what they belong to. Now, she must fight to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth.
There is something we have to admit when watching a film like this: we are here for the monster. The Predator has always been cool, even in the bad movies. An uber-killing machine with cool gadgets and spectacular design is an instant draw. Yet, to make these films truly compelling, you have to pair the creature up against a great protagonist: someone you believe could stand toe to toe with such an entity. Trachtenberg and writer Patrick Aison’s script manage to deliver on that in a big way.
Midthunder is incredible in this film. From the opening sequence of her throwing her tomahawk and hunting a deer to the film’s conclusion, Midthunder is a presence to be reckoned with. Not since Arnold faced off against the Predator has there been such a compelling protagonist in one of these films. She has charm and ambition, in addition to being a total badass. However, she has flaws and weaknesses she must overcome in order to survive. The juxtaposition of her and the Predator is clear, and they make for an interesting dual narrative.
I’m excited to say that Prey lived up to my expectations. While there were a few moments that were a bit too on the nose in terms of delivering the film’s themes, I still found the movie as a whole to be wholly entertaining. This is one that I could see myself rewatching, especially back in the old days of cable movie cycles where you would watch it just because it was on. This has all the trappings of those kinds of movies, and Prey earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.