With 1987’s Predator, an action franchise similar to The Terminator was born, making way for one of cinema’s most iconic villains. As the franchise evolved, they created sequels and crossovers with very mixed results, with 2018’s The Predator nearly sinking the franchise altogether. But recently, the Predator prequel, Prey breathed new life to what was a dying franchise, and ventured back to the franchise’s roots to make a film that stands toe-to-toe with the original.
Comanche warrior and tracker Naru (played by Amber Midthunder) begins her journey to become one of the hunters when she sees signs of a different kind of beast lurking in the woods. Little does she know that it is the very first Predator (played by Dane DiLiegro) that comes to Earth for a Hunt. With the knowledge of this apex predator amongst the forest, she sets out to kill it before it has the chance to kill her, her brother Taabe (played by Dakota Beavers), and the rest of her tribe.
Prey had no right to be as good as it was. When I first saw promos for it, I rolled my eyes, expecting this to be similar to Terminator: Dark Fate. I’m very glad I was proven wrong. While there weren’t high expectations to live up to following The Predator, it more than exceeded the highest of expectations that I set. Arguably the best aspect of Prey has to be Amber Midthunder’s Naru. She portrayed her with intelligence and ferocity that only Dutch himself could match. She is one of the smartest and most tactical protagonists of recent memory, as she uses her intuition and observational skills to learn the strengths and weaknesses revolving around the Feral Predator. The strong writing and fierce performance not only make Naru a skilled fighter, but a warrior you would not want to underestimate.
The Feral Predator was also a huge highlight. First off, I am glad they went back to prosthetics and makeup for this iteration rather than using a CGI monster like 2018’s The Predator did with their Upgraded Predator. While there are some effects used on the design of the Feral Predator, they are more touch ups for small things like facial features, Predator’s fluorescent green blood and the bear brawl. By using the visual effects sparingly, Prey allows for the action to breathe and give way for the creative kills Predators have become known for. It is also worth mentioning that many of Feral Predator’s weapons are early models of what earlier Predator installments would become. It makes for new looks at both their evolution of a film species and evolution of their fighting techniques.
Speaking of some of these creative kills, the action is brutal and phenomenal. From the big reveal of the Feral Predator against the Comanche warriors to the final fight against Naru, it was nothing short of brilliant. Using phenomenal fight choreography along with some breathtaking visual effects made for both inventive sequences and unique kills. The best case is when Feral Predator went up against the French Fur Trappers and absolutely eviscerated them, using everything from throwing a bear trap at a trapper’s face, decapitating another with a shield and using what seemed to be a bouncing betty-like explosive on the rest.
Prey is the breath of fresh air that the Predator franchise sorely needed. While the franchise isn’t in as bad of shape compared to the Terminator franchise, I didn’t hear anyone clamoring for another Predator movie either. Amber Midthunder is a badass to be reckoned with as Naru and also proves to be one of the best heroine’s of the last decade, arguably as formidable as Sarah Connor. The Feral Predator is also a nice addition to the ever expanding Predator villains, using earlier iterations of later Predator technology and being an absolute savage on the battlefield. All-in-all, Prey continues its franchise successfully, soaring higher than many of the sequels that came before it and standing with the original 1987 Predator gracefully.