Written by Donovan Wan
A Predator lands in North America during the early 1700s. It is not the kind of fan service you want, but it is the one we need. There are a myriad of films after the first one that had difficulty meeting expectations, but finally one came along that may be one of the best in the series. The film revolves around a Comanche wannabe warrior, Naru, who needs to earn her rank within her tribe by killing a worthy opponent. But of all the opponents she could choose, she went with the Predator.
The Predator is seen a lot more in this film doing violent deeds like skinning snakes or ripping the skull of a wolf, slowly picking on smaller opponents before facing the final boss that is Naru. This is an interesting approach for we get to observe the Predator’s usual routine, unlike the previous films where it only kills people on screen. The design of the skilful alien has changed into a more primal one as well, with more bare-boned weapons instead of the technologically advanced one in previous films. The Predator’s mask seems to be carved from the skull of a large creature instead of a 3D printed one, and the absence of the iconic laser blaster on the Predator’s shoulder is replaced by a spear gun. Perhaps Naru has proved herself to the point that a whole species had to upgrade before coming back for another hunt. However, this is a fresh take on what could have been a photocopy of the Predator from previous films where their weapons are overly sophisticated.
Naru’s arsenal of weaponry is quite limited, and throughout the film she is not good with her bow. Instead, Naru uses an ax that has a rope attached so that she can pull the weapon back to herself, almost like bringing a fork to a gunfight. Despite all of that, Naru and the Predator do have certain qualities that are similar. They are both resourceful in their environment; for instance, Naru uses the space to her advantage to trap her opponents while the Predator uses it to hide for surprise attacks. Both have competent healing skills, where they are able to take care of themselves after getting wounded in combat. They both make ideal predators that are top of the food chain, able to rely solely on themselves and are able to put up a good fight. In the end, it shows that intelligence is the most dangerous trait to have. Perhaps reinforcing how humans are at the top of the food chain, and may be the ultimate Predator.
The fight sequences in this film are something to behold, mostly because of the amazing set pieces and choreography. And throughout these battles, the audience gets to see Naru mature and grow into the warrior she is capable of, such that by the final boss battle we know that they would be evenly matched. It is one of those scenes where you are barely eating your popcorn as it builds up to the climax where you do not know how it is going to turn out. It is an adrenaline–fuelled version of chess, not just a physical fight but really a battle of wits. Naru puts everything she has learned throughout the film, and uses it against her opponent who supposedly has the upper hand. Just goes to show how important experience is instead of just having a degree.
Overall, Prey deserves to be seen on the big screen. The film world is larger than life with its amazing cast of actors and real locations, keeping us wanting to explore more. The audience would be captivated by its illustrious beauty at times that we might forget that there is a Predator out there.
This review is published as part of *SCAPE’s Film Critics Lab: A Writing Mentorship Programme organised by The Filmic Eye, with support from the Singapore Film Society and Sinema.
About the Author: Donovan Wan studied Film at the School of Art, Design and Media. He spends his free time freelancing on shoots and doing voice overs for commercials. He is an aspiring cinematographer and hopes to continue making short films or perhaps a feature someday.
About the Movie:
Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg
Cast: Amber Midthunder, Dane DiLiegro
Duration: 1h 40min
Synopsis: A skilled Comanche warrior protects her tribe from a highly evolved alien predator that hunts humans for sport, fighting against wilderness, dangerous colonisers and this mysterious creature to keep her people safe.
Catch Prey on these streaming platforms: Hulu, Disney+ or ESPN+.