If there’s any one franchise that has astounded me in its consistency of fucking-up such a seemingly simple formula, it’s that of the Predator franchise. While I’m a fan of the 2010 film Predators, I still found it to be a decently flawed film that left me craving more from the franchise and it’s roots. Which is why I was wildly excited to find out that writer/director Shane Black would be tackling the franchise back in 2018 with his film The Predator. And, to put it nicely, it didn’t scratch my itch for what I look for in a Predator flick – which caused me to go down a rabbit hole if rewatching the original, wondering what made it so good? And I came to the realization that it can be summed up in merely one word – simplicity.
Prey harkens back to the most simple of Predator narratives and follows a skilled Comanche warrior named Naru (Amber Midthunder) in 1719 who sets out to find out what creature is threatening her people as mysterious attacks begin to happen. However, the more she tracks down this mysterious creature the more she becomes aware it won’t be like other prey she’s hunted in her past – it’s an apex alien predator with a technologically advanced arsenal of weapons. This puts Naru and the Predator on the same course – one where only one can remain standing.
Director Dan Trachtenberg, who is well-known for his impressive and tense film 10 Cloverfield Lane from 2016, has crafted a Predator film stripped down to its most basic of needs and ambitions; a genuine meat and potatoes thriller. And honestly? After watching Shane Black’s 2018 film where it seemingly tried to subvert our expectations at every corner due to its “satire” – there’s something refreshing about seeing a Predator story told with both restraint and knowledge of what makes the formula work so well in the first place. Trachtenberg also does an absolutely stellar job with the action sequences here, delivering so many gorgeous shots filmed in natural light.
However, I’d be remised not to mention the absolutely fantastic lead performance from Amber Midthunder as Naru, who both nails the action sequences to perfection as well as adds some much needed humanity to a dark and gritty action film. Prey is surprisingly character focused and grounded considering the franchise it’s in, and while it doesn’t necessarily feel like a game-changer, I suppose I’d consider it to be the best Predator sequel by default and for the first time in quite a while, I’d be genuinely curious to see where the franchise goes from here should they choose to do more.