Amber Midthunder plays Naru, a young woman with hopes of becoming a hunter. She is so eager that she invites herself onto hunting trips, much to the chagrin of her fellow tribe members. Despite being a skilled hunter, nothing would prepare Naru for what she would soon stumble upon. After finding the carcasses of skinned animals, she makes first contact with a being that may not be human or animal.
PREY is the fifth entry in the famous Predator series and the first since 2018’s The Predator, which failed to capture audiences. Unlike the previous entries in the franchise, Prey takes place in 1700s Colonial America, and it follows the Comanche Nation’s contact with the fearsome antagonist.
I’m not a fan of the Predator franchise, and the only one I’ve enjoyed was 2010’s Predators, and even then, it was only a 3-star affair for me. However, Prey is in another ballpark when you compare it to the others in the series. By doing something as simple as having the film be set in 1717 with an ensemble cast mostly made up of Native American performers, Prey revitalises a formula that we’re so used to, thus creating an entry that is as refreshing as it is enjoyable.
My main issue with the more recent Predator movies is the forgettable characters and the behind-the-scenes scrambling to create a character they hope will be their new Arnie. They attempted it with Adrien Brody’s Royce, a U.S Special Operations Forces Vet turned Mercenary and then again with Boyd Holbrook’s Quin McKenna, an Army Ranger Captain. Each time they attempt to force another semi-attractive white man into the main role, it never ends well because it’s clear that they are still trying to bank on the first movie.
This try-and-try-again method has made the Predator series one of the few franchises without a leading performer who reprises their role. Many big names have come and gone, including Carl Weathers, Danny Glover, Laurence Fishburne, and even Keegan-Michael Key, but the franchise is yet to find their Jamie Lee Curtis or Sigourney Weaver. But, Amber Midthunder could very well be that person.
Midthunder is an absolute star, delivering a performance that is as interesting as it is thrilling to watch. She rises to the challenge against the Predator, showing she’s that she certainly has the skills, and the audience, showing that she isn’t just another Arnie replacement. It can’t be easy leading the fifth movie in a franchise that has had a different lead for each movie, but Midthunder steps easily into the shoes of those who came before her. And with the likes of Schwarzenegger and Glover being among her predecessors, those shoes had a lot of space to fill.
Midthunder is just one member of a cast that, with a few exceptions, consists of Native American performers, which is a delight to see. Not only does it help paint a more accurate picture of the times, but it’s also just fantastic to see diversity in a popular science-fiction franchise.
Unlike recent entries in the Predator series, Prey takes its time to build itself up rather than throwing the audience into the murderously madcap adventures of the leading characters. Although we know very well “who” is out there stalking animals and (eventually) humans, writer Patrick Aison still manages to make the lead-up to the Predator’s reveal an exciting and tension-filled event.
That’s not saying the movie isn’t action-packed; it’s just that the bulk of it doesn’t start until the humans are introduced to the Predator. As mentioned above, the film does take its time to reach this moment, but its slow build is enough to make the “first contact” scene more than worth the wait.
Since Prey is set in the 1700s, the action scenes are very different from the ones we’re used to. The humans must use bows and arrows and muskets to fight the Predator. While the Predator’s weaponry is largely the same, the creatives have at least made it somewhat different by making its weapons take on an older aesthetic – a fantastic touch to display that this isn’t just a past for the humans, but for our alien visitor as well.
This might be good evidence of my indifference to the Predator series, but I don’t remember any of the other movies being this graphic. A lot of audience members will be more than pleased to hear just how bloody this R/18-Rated movie is, and Trachtenberg doesn’t hold back. Some of the deaths are realistically gruesome, while others are a little more out there, which is suitable for a sci-fi-horror such as this.
Prey isn’t only the best Predator movie we’ve had since the 1987 original, but it has the potential to create its own series set entirely in the past. I just hope that 20th Century Studios brings back Dan Trachtenberg and Amber Midthunder. And hopefully, Disney will make it a theatrically released movie, because Prey certainly had what it takes to be one.
Prey will be released on the following services:
- Hulu (United States)
- Star+ (Latin America)
- Disney+ Hotstar (India, Indonesia, Malaysia & Thailand)
- Disney+ (Everywhere else)