When preconceived notions get thrown out the window, something special happens….
Debuting on Disney+ today; Prey is one of those first times in the history of the service that we as audience actually wish the film had gone to the big screen. It’s a prequel that breathes life into the Predator franchise and gives the world a female action hero that represents her culture and her gender in a unique incredible way.
Set in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, this prequel to the Predator franchise tells the story of a young woman, Naru, a fierce and highly skilled warrior. She has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters who roam the Great Plains, so when danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people. The prey she stalks, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien predator with a technically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries.
It’s quite simply the prequel to a franchise that we never knew we needed as Prey gets us back to the essence of what made the first film so special and layers a new hero for this new generation to the mythology of it all.
Writer/Director Dan Trachtenberg captures the real spirit of the franchise by boiling it down to the mono e mono spirit of the first film with Schwarzenegger and giving it a healthy spin. He masterfully mashes up the machismo of the western, the electricity of the monster movie while honouring an under represented culture and gender.
The pacing is masterful, the action is believable as the tension builds and builds to the ultimate reveal of the alien that we all know far too well who is doing the hunting. Shot on the plains of Calgary, it all feels honest and truthful getting back to something badass and organic then anything convoluted and silly. There’s purity in the action here that actually has to be seen to be believed because instead of going with the current trends of trying to build a “universe” for the Predator franchise, this film actually goes in the other direction following the old adage of keeping it simple stupid.
In that vein, they achieve this with Amber Midthunder in the lead as our heroine Naru. Straight out of the mold that the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver set in stone in the image of the ‘final girl’, there is no doubt that she is an action hero for the 21st century. Not because she’s big or buff or skilled with weapons, it’s because she’s resolute to earn the respect of the men in her tribe and fight right alongside them. Actor Dakota Beavers as her brother Taabe is really the only other actor who gets any character moments to shine but that’s OK because this film is about our heroine and the duel she is locked in with this mysterious alien. It’s all a test that brings up the best of humanity against a literal Predator who only knows how to hunt or ultimately acknowledge that they’ve been hunted, these films are about humanity at its core and who better to exemplify that then a young woman.
Ultimately on one end, it makes me sad that Prey won’t be seen on the big screen but on the other it makes me happy that more people than ever will likely be watching this film on screens all across the world that may not have gone to the theatres in the first place.