Released in 2022, "Prey" is an innovative and gripping entry in the Predator franchise, known for its science-fiction action centered around extraterrestrial hunters. Directed by Dan Trachtenberg, "Prey" takes a unique approach by setting its story in the Great Plains of North America during the early 18th century, far removed from the urban jungles and distant planets of previous installments. The film stars Amber Midthunder as Naru, a fierce and determined young Comanche woman who dreams of becoming a hunter as respected as her brother Taabe, portrayed by Dakota Beavers.
Unlike its predecessors, "Prey" strips down the high-tech arsenal and chaotic firefights characteristic of the series, opting instead for a raw and visceral survival tale. Naru, skilled in the ways of the forest and endowed with an indomitable spirit, dreams of proving herself by taking down an apex predator. Her opportunity seems to arrive when an unknown threat begins to stalk and mercilessly kill the wildlife—and eventually, members of her tribe.
Throughout the movie, Naru's intelligence, tracking abilities, and courage are put to the test as she faces this mysterious and deadly adversary. The creature she pursues is revealed to audiences familiar with the series as another iteration of the Predator, played by Dane DiLiegro, but to Naru and her tribe, it is a terror without a name. The Predator is armed with advanced technology, including stealth cloaking and an arsenal capable of challenges not yet known to the 18th-century world. The contrast between the Predator's high-tech weaponry and the primitive tools at Naru's disposal creates an underdog narrative that adds tension and intrigue to the hunt.
Midthunder's portrayal of Naru is both authentic and compelling, offering viewers a character whose personal journey is as captivating as her battle for survival. She embodies the characteristics of a classic hero while also presenting a nuanced portrayal of a young woman grappling with the traditions and expectations of her people. Naru is not just fighting for her life, but for the right to stand as an equal among her tribe's warriors.
"Prey" delves into the rich backdrop of Comanche culture, offering a refreshing perspective and setting that distinguishes it from previous entries in the franchise. The filmmakers worked closely with Comanche advisors to ensure a respectful and accurate representation of the tribe's customs and language, immersing viewers in an authentic depiction of life in the early 18th century plains. Beavers' portrayal of Naru's brother, Taabe, adds to this cultural depth, and their sibling bond provides an emotional anchor for the audience amidst the thrilling action.
The cinematography of "Prey" adds an additional layer of beauty and terror to the film. The natural landscapes are shot beautifully, juxtaposing serene rivers and majestic forests against the backdrop of a deadly hunt. The contrast between the untouched beauty of the natural world and the carnage that unfolds presents a haunting atmosphere that keeps the audience's tension high. The filmmaker's decision to focus less on gore and more on suspenseful and strategic encounters reflects a return to the cunning and chilling roots of the Predator as an elite hunter.
One of the most significant achievements of "Prey" is its ability to both honor and expand upon the lore of the Predator universe. Without relying on the nostalgia of the earlier films, it successfully introduces a fresh narrative and a new angle from which to appreciate the Predator's lethal prowess. The creature's iconic design is subtly evolved for this period setting, maintaining its fearsome visage while accommodating the historical context.
Throughout the movie, themes of respect for nature, the struggle for recognition, and the confrontation between basic instinct and advanced technology are woven together seamlessly. "Prey" also comments on topics such as the clash between cultures and the universal nature of the hunter and the hunted. These themes give the film a substantive undercurrent that enriches the story beyond its action-packed surface.
In conclusion, "Prey" stands as a bold and resonant entry in the Predator franchise, diverging from the expected and delivering a stark and impactful variation on the classic monster vs. human tale. It succeeds through a combination of a strong, fresh setting, a commitment to cultural authenticity, compelling performances, particularly by Midthunder, and a tension-filled plot that both honors and rejuvenates the series' long-standing legacy. Whether one is a fan of the franchise or new to the series, "Prey" offers an engrossing and intense cinematic experience.
Prey is a 2022 thriller. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.1 and a MetaScore of 71.