By Robert Richmond
After almost forty years, we’ve finally got a great Predator movie again! I avoided all trailers
and marketing and am glad to report that Prey absolutely rules for so many reasons. Amber
Midhunter’s Naru is a great protagonist and all of her successes feel completely earned,
she’s easy to root for. The setting here of a Native American tribe going against the Predator
(along with other ‘predators’) is a fresh take for the franchise and the stripped back nature
recaptures what made the original so great. We’ve only got one Predator this entire film, a
return to basics and the film treats the Predator like the fearsome hunter it is. It’s cloaked in
shadow almost the whole movie, we see its hunting process, we see how it skins, how it heals
and it is so technologically superior to every person in this movie that it finally feels like a
There are some cool themes here about the cycle of nature, who we judge to be the ‘predator’
and ‘prey’ and what is quite literally an aggressive and invasive species taking over a planet.
The French colonialists and the Predators are alike in that regard, we feel sympathy for all
the tribespeople the Predator kills, whereas him killing the colonists is rightfully shot as the
fun moment of action glee it should be. It gives the film a body count you really don’t think
it will have with the more introspective nature of the first half.
Between this and 10 Cloverfield Lane, Dan Trachtenberg is 2 for 2 and what he does with a
limited budget here is perfect. The Predator looks great, the gore is great, the landscape
shots are gorgeous and the final fight is incredible, an example of how with proper lighting,
you can have a fight in darkness still looks gorgeous. Prey is completely disconnected from
any previous Predator movie, you don’t need to know a single thing and that’s great. There
is one line from the previous films and it doesn’t even feel like an egregious moment of fan
service since it actually sounds like a line that character would say in that moment. The
movie makes a smart choice in that we are following Naru’s perspective the whole time: she
doesn’t know what a Predator is so neither do we and she doesn’t know what the Frenchmen
are saying so they’re not subtitled for us. It makes all these elements feel alien to us as the
viewers as well as for Naru as a character.
Also again, I cannot overstate how much the final showdown rocks, the whole film builds to
that moment with so many callbacks where all of Naru’s skills come in handy and everything
pays off amazingly.
Prey is the exact shot in the arm the Predator franchise needed, and opens up so many
possibilities going forward. Give us more stand-alone, period piece Predator movies going
forward! Predators vs samurai in Feudal Japan! Predators vs cowboys! Predators vs The
Roman Empire, go for it!