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Prey (2022) – Review – A Very Welcome Addition to the Predator Franchise

August 3, 2022
Poster courtesy of Getty Images

When it was first announced that Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane, The Boys, Black Mirror) would be directing a Predator film starring Amber Midthunder (watch Legion now – she is great), I knew I had to watch it. His film 10 Cloverfield Lane is an effective tension bomb that features Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr., and John Goodman engaging in a deadly game of chess inside a sealed off bunker. Trachtenberg’s Cloverfield-spinoff is a solid white-knuckler, and the 6’2” Goodman plays an absolute menace who towers over his captives and forces them to get extremely creative in their quest to escape his bunker/prison. Trachtenberg’s skill set is perfect for a Predator movie because he knows what made the first film so good (remote location, cool villain, capable heroes, chaos, fun final fight). Also,the idea of taking the Yautja hunter back to the 1700s where it battles Comanche hunters and French fur traders is inspired because the heroes don’t have a M134 Minigun to shoot at the invisible villain. The icing on the science fiction film cake is that Amber Midthunder was cast to be the main protagonist. She’s so good in Legion, and her stunt/fight training are put to good use here as her character Naru is outmatched physically (like all the other main characters in the franchise), but knows the terrain and has a sharp ax that she ingeniously ties a rope to for quicker retrieval.

The best part about Prey is how it relies on a simple plot revolving around Naru and her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) battling a Yautja (Dane DiLiegro – a 6′ 9″ former basketball player) who hunts them while they’re on a hunt. To make things worse for Naru, is that she isn’t taken seriously as a warrior and is only brought along for her tracking skills and healing prowess which come in handy when her trusted dog gets stuck in a metal trap or fellow warriors get their legs blown off. What’s cool about Prey is how it stands on its own but also features fun callbacks (mud is used, limbs are lost) and Easter Eggs (there’s a fun Predator 2 reference) to appease Predator franchise fans. Also, there are some beautiful moments that allow the Yautja to absolutely demolish dozens of people who were stupid enough to get in its way. This isn’t the cheeky Yautja of The Predator, this is a super mean and deadly monster that is all about hunting and killing.

Writer Patrick Aison (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Treadstone – he was also a consultant on Legion) deserves credit for knowing what’s important and building towards a fun final fight between Naru and the jerky hunter. I really enjoyed watching Naru rely on her intelligence and ax throwing to combat a technologically superior foe who is also about three-feet taller than her. The simple premise allows for some fun set pieces that will put a smile on your face as you watch a river battle involving a Yautja wrestling with an angry bear. 

When looking back at the Predator franchise, the producers/directors have done a good job of casting a diverse group of heroes who are forced to battle the Yautja. Whether it’s the burly group of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers. Bill Duke and Adrien Brody, or the extremely capable (but not as burly) Danny Glover, Sanaa Latham, and Alice Braga, there’s a neat range of memorable characters who either become an honorary Yautja, or get their arms blown off by a laser cannon. I’m pleased to announce that Midthunder’s character Naru fits nicely within the classic character canon and her final battle with the Yautja stands alongside the best the franchise has ever offered.

Prey is one of the best Predator films, and I really hope that audiences discover it on Hulu. 

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