Prey (2022)

In case I never told you, I love Predator. I love the whole series. Well, the ones with Aliens are just OK and that last one should have never been released, but still, I love the Yautja and whatever they choose to do in movies.

But I was worried about this one.

How many series have we seen rebooted, revised, remixed and screwed up?

I mean, I could care less about ever seeing another Alien at this point.

But man, the idea of the Predator in the past seems, dare I say, an idea as good as the stuff in Dark Horse comics. Could a movie pull it off?

Spoiler warning: yes.

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) and written by Patrick Aison, Prey takes place in 1719. Our heroine is Naru (Amber Midthunder, who is incredible in this), a Comanche who has been trained as a healer but dreams of joining the hunt and being alongside her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers).

As she tracks a deer alone — save for her dog Sarii (an American Dingo named Coco who was not a trained movie dog and was pretty wild on the set) — she sees what she can only see as a Thunderbird, the mythological creature that was believed to control the upper world while the underworld is the domain of the underwater panther or Great Horned Serpent; the flapping wings of the Thunderbird creates thunder and the lighting it unleashes is meant to destroy the beasts of the world below. In truth, it’s a Predator ship, out to hunt the tribe which is strong enough to fell lions.

Using a plan that Naru has come up with, Taabe kills the weakened lion and becomes War Chief, while Naru is injured and must deal with the indignity of him carrying her home. Yet Naru believes that something even more dangerous is out there, something that can skin an entire buffalo and easily defeats a bear. By the time her tribe sends a party to rescue her, they run directly into a primitive Predator (Dane DiLiegro, a former basketball player) that easily kills every single one of them, only sparing Naru as her foot is caught in a trap. She’s not a threat, so he thinks, yet even after she’s caught by trappers, she remains ready to find and kill the hunter who has killed so many of her fellow Cherokee.

This sets up a final battle that lives up to anything the franchise has given to its fans before. And yes, the line “If it bleeds, we can kill it” is in there.

There are so many touches that I loved; the glowing Predator blood being used as war paint, the  flintlock pistol with the name Raphael Adolini on it being the same gun Lieutenant Mike Harrigan was given at the end of Predator 2, Naru’s kinetic fighting style, the streamlined and brawny look of this Feral Predator…this movie just works. It flies, never seeming bloated or overly filled with exposition like so many modern action movies. Even the moment where the film’s title appears in the sky and gets out the way made me want to cheer.

So many people have issues with female heroines. Or the poor CGI. Or how this Predator looks different. You know, people can have all the opinions they want. This is the Predator that I’ve been waiting for, a movie that takes the intensity of the first film and builds on it, respects the franchise and yet gives it something fresh.

The real joy has been all of the actors from the first movie sending glad tidings to Midthunder and telling her how well she did. Mushy words from big macho action stars. Ah man, it makes me tear up a little…but that’s just a strategy to mask my body heat because I’m being hunted. If you see those three dots, get running!

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