Restarts, revivals, prequels and traditional sequels have become the norm, and it’s increasingly rare to see a franchise show a really fresh take on its mythology. In 2022 alone, there were several successful debuts (“Scream” and “Best Shooter: Maverick” come to mind), while others failed (it’s better to forget about the rash sequel to Netflix’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”). The Predator franchise has received a lot of sequels, crossovers and branched IP addresses. Prey is the latest and arguably the best part of Predator since the original 1987 movie. The lean action movie Prey brings Predator back to its ultra-violent roots and has established itself as a worthy entry in the mythology of the franchise.
Prey tells the story of Naru (Amber Midtander), a member of the Comanche people in 1719 in North America, who wants to prove her hunting abilities among her male colleagues. This includes her brother Taabe (Dakota Beevers), with whom she is close and whose bond is the heart of the film. Small acts of rebellion by Naru make her notice the presence of a kind of predator that is unfamiliar to her. While everyone else ignores her, Naru sets out to hunt down a Predator and finds herself on a brutal journey that puts her in front of the harsh wildlife of the region, cruel colonizers and a brutal alien presence.
One of Prey’s greatest strengths is its approach to the franchise. While other reboots and sequels are trying to develop the roots of their franchise with varying degrees of success, Prey is doing it quite simply, and it’s clear that this is what the movie needs. Returning to the natural setting of the first Predator and the underrated Adrian Brody 2010 with Predators in the title role, the film makes extensive use of the forest and mountainous areas of 18th century North America. Much of the first half of the film follows Naru as she tracks down a Predator in the vast lands of the Comanche people, and these episodes are as tense as when she encounters the Predator itself. The preparation for Naru’s first meeting pushes the tension to the limit before it explodes into a bloody mess, which leaves Naru on the run. Director Dan Trachtenberg’s assessment of the environment in the midst of all this gives the film a naturalistic touch that best suits “Predator.” To confront a man with a titled alien is not necessary for him to look good.
None of this would have worked without the exciting Midthunder game as Naru. Her curiosity outweighs her hesitation in hunting a Predator, and this-combined with her fierce defense, which goes unnoticed by those she cares most about-makes her increasingly dangerous predicaments even more alarming. Naru and Taabe’s relationship is based on necessity and love, and Midtander and Beavers have a natural bond that gives Prey the right amount of emotion.
Amber Midtander as Naru in the movie “Prey”
All of this is emphasized by Prey’s clear connection with the themes of colonization and violence perpetuated against Native Americans by imperialist forces. Jane Myers (Comanche and Blackfeet by descent) was invited on board to consult on the representation of Prey Indigenous peoples, and the film ensures that their portrayal goes beyond the stereotypical ways they have been portrayed in the past. Also, to see an indigenous woman leading a film with a heart of steel and fierce grace is a refreshing twist for a genre that is still struggling to move beyond its white male purview.
Ultimately, Prey definitely has the potential to relaunch a franchise that has struggled over the past decade and a half. Films like Prey don’t need much world—building or mythologization – the skillful work of the characters and the well-established visual language allow you to create a film that barely stops to take a breath. Where the Predator will go next remains unclear, but the Prey definitely proves that there is more life left in the franchise.