Review By: Jonathan W. Hickman
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Cast: Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Dane Dilegro, Stormee Kipp, Mike Paterson, and Nelson Leis
Running Time: 1 hour 39 minutes
Available on Hulu
Proving that there is new life in a decaying franchise, “the “Predator” canon is reloaded with the fantastic surprise “Prey.”
Set 300 years before the events of the original “Predator” film, this inventive prequel has the Comanche Nation under siege from another beastly extraterrestrial hunter. But this time, the partially invisible armed sport-killer meets his match in a pint-sized Native American who doesn’t shrink from a fight.
Following the familiar playbook, we’re introduced to Naru (Amber Mindhunter) as she tries to break free of the restrictions placed on other women in her tribe. A resourceful and skilled huntress, the young men in the community dismiss her efforts as a girl’s passing fantasy. But then an alien touches down, and it’s all hands on deck.
Still trying to convince others of her mettle, Naru uses her mind and body, but is it enough to outsmart and outfight a technologically advanced and physically superior creature from off-world?
What’s interesting about this “Predator” outing is that even though we know all the story beats, director Dan Trachtenberg (see “10 Cloverfield Lane”) makes them fresh. Key to this film’s success is breakout star Midthunder, who defies her small waif-like frame to become a formidable opponent in this cat-and-mouse affair. And even without the Predator, Naru’s arguably revisionist yarn would be thrilling.
The success of “Prey,” albeit on the small screen, has caused folks to reevaluate the series that launched in 1987 with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead. The 1990 sequel starring Danny Glover was dismissed at the time; however, looking back, it isn’t so bad. And that film did advance the Predator mythology by moving the action to the urban setting.
“Predators” in 2010 was fascinating because it took the franchise in another entirely different direction. And with 2018’s “The Predator,” director Shane Black had fun with what, at the time, was thought to be a franchise reboot. If you leave out the embarrassing crossover “Alien vs. Predator” movies, there’s not a completely bad film in the whole lot.
“Prey” could do what “The Predator” wasn’t able to accomplish in making a new series a critically lauded and commercially profitable possibility. Director Trachtenberg and team get points for their movie’s breezy running time that bigger budgeted wannabe blockbusters should emulate.