The Predator returns. And for the seventh time since the original Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle from 1987. This, of course, is nothing new for a studio franchise monster. Yet this latest, Prey, debuting on Hulu, goes beyond the usual franchise entry. Outside the usual sci-fi action spectacle of lasers and explosions and video-game violence, Prey has a story to tell. One of empowerment and of honor and heritage. Prey is a fast-paced hunt of a film with adrenalized action and refreshing characters, one that totally missed out on a deserving theatrical release.
Title: Prey (2022) Director: Dan Trachtenberg Writer: Patrick Aison // Dan Trachtenberg Studio: 20th Century Studios IMDb Plot: Set 300 years ago, Naru, a skilled female warrior, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth. Joe Says: Prey is a fast-paced hunt of a film with adrenalized action and refreshing characters, one that totally missed out on a deserving theatrical release.
Set three hundred years in the past, Prey is the ultimate “what if,” placing the infrared seeing, gadget-wielding hunter from the stars stalking tribal Comanche, among the fiercest of the North American tribal nations out in the Great Plains of Alberta. Amber Midthunder (from FX’s Legion series) plays Naru, a young woman who, along with her faithful canine companion, seeks to be among the best in a boy’s world. After convincing her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) to tag along on a lion hunt, Naru soon gets caught in an interstellar-level chase as a Predator, similar to Naru, seeks to prove its own strength. Naru, similar to the Predator, does not want to settle on mere survival; she wants to win.
Director Dan Trachtenberg and writer Patrick Aison give the franchise a foundation-building new direction. While the story focuses on the simplicity of the ritual – the hunter, the bait, the prey – environmental conflicts add to the suspense (a hearty welcome back to quicksand as the quintessential pop-culture hazard!). There are no tired characters whose sole purpose is a lazy death as the human baddies, French trappers, provide key ingredients to the mix (most notably a fun Easter egg tying Prey to Predator 2). Even the Predator’s arsenal is a believable mixture of utility belt necessity instead of MacGuffin-level convenience.
Most important is the cultural message Prey embodies. Midthunder’s Naru is a strong, smart female character who gets the chance to blaze her own trail. Naru might not be the strongest or the smartest, in fact, her all-too human qualities of showing fear are instantly relatable, but her inner fire is a spotlight beaconing others to follow. Prey also turns that spotlight on Native Americans and does something criminally few movies do: making the tribes the stars and heroes, and not merely the sidekick or the tragic asset. This is an important movement. Trachtenberg and Aison again prove the axiom that the best science-fiction stories contain universal, relevant truths.
In the world of the Predator, strength comes from within, regardless if the blood is red or fluorescent green. Prey provides plenty of both.
PREY is a strong, refreshing entry into scifi canon; full of empowerment and of honor and heritage.