'Prey' review: The Predator finally gets a great follow-up to the 1987 original

It's only taken 35 years, but one of sci-fi's greatest monsters has finally gotten a sequel, sorry, prequel, that it can be proud of. – Photos: Disney+ Hotstar

When Prey was initially greenlit in 2019, the movie was shrouded in secrecy. It took almost a year before the film shed its camouflage and revealed itself to be the fifth Predator film, and a prequel at that.

Now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar, Prey is directed by Dan Trachtenberg, and is only his second feature film since the 2016's critically acclaimed 10 Cloverfield Lane. It is set in 1719, where a young female Native American warrior from the Comanche Nation named Naru (Amber Midthunder), is out to prove herself as a hunter amongst her people.

At first, her main target is a mountain lion, but she soon realises that there is a much deadlier and more formidable adversary, in the form of a lone Predator. Together with her brother Taabe (newcomer Dakota Beavers), they must face this new enemy and turn the Predator into their prey instead.

Be vewy vewy quiet. We're hunting Predators.Be vewy vewy quiet. We're hunting Predators.

It has taken the better of 35 years, but the Predator has finally got the follow-up to the original. The original Predator was released in 1987, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch Vietnam War veteran matched wits with the highly-evolved, mandible-fanged, ultimate hunter-alien in the jungles of Central America.

Since then, there have been three sequels – 1990’s mildly entertaining Predator 2, 2010’s disappointing Predators, and 2018’s convoluted The Predator. And then there were those two crossovers with the Aliens franchise that made you want to get it to the chopper.

The original movie was memorable not just for the way they introduced the Predator as a formidable foe, but also for its focus on making it all about the hunt, with almost every character, even the first one to die, being memorable in his or her way.

The subsequent sequels went the 'go big or go home' route, which unfortunately resulted in diluting the Predator's aura of invincibility and reducing it to a 'by the numbers' kind of monster instead.

Who needs a choppa when you've got a horse instead?Who needs a choppa when you've got a horse instead?

Prey masterfully circumvents this by going back to a time when Earth's technology and weaponry could hardly be called advance, and pitting the Predator against a people who may not have the most advanced of weaponry, but are every bit the formidable hunter that it is.

In Amber Midthunder, Trachtenberg may have just uncovered the next great female action hero. Midthunder puts in a powerful and extremely convincing performance as the steely and determined Naru, who is out to prove that she is every bit as good a hunter as her brothers and the other men in her tribe.

In Amber Midthunder, we might have jsut found our next great female action star.In Amber Midthunder, we might have jsut found our next great female action star.Midthunder, who apparently did as many of her own stunts as possible, handles the action perfectly, wielding her bow and arrows and lethal throwing axe with all the skill and mastery of a seasoned hunter. The contrast in size and power between her and the Predator also makes for a much more intriguing face-off.

Naru isn't just another brawny action hero who muscles his way through the fight aimlessly – she exudes cunning and intelligence in every situation she gets herself in, even in the early encounters when she is the prey, and not the hunter.

The Predator himself is everything you expect it to be. The menace and power is on full display here, evident in the way it makes easy meat of a giant bear, and the weaponry and tech is every bit as intimidating as ever.

Putting it in a more primitive era in Earth's history may seem like a mismatch, but if anything, it serves to make the stakes higher, and make you care more for Naru, Taabe, and the rest of the Comanches.

The title itself is a bit of a misnomer – while the Predator is initially the hunter and Naru the prey, the best part of this is watching her turn that around and start doing the hunting instead. By doing so, and by stripping the franchise of all its ra-ra macho action hero excesses, Trachtenberg proves that even though the Predator franchise has been bleeding, you just can't kill it just yet.

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