The fifth film in the “Predator” franchise is a blast from the past, with the alien hunter attacking warriors in the 1700s, rather than the present day.
In the Great Plains, during the year of 1719, a young Comanche woman named Naru (Amber Midthunder) has hopes of being a hunter like her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers). For most of her life, she’s been relegated to being a healer, yet she continues to train for an opportunity that might come one day where she will use her skills.
That opportunity ends up happening in the form of a Predator alien. Naru begins finding strange tracks and fierce animals who’re killed, meaning there’s something dangerous out there. Knowing the threat posed to her tribe, Naru sets out to battle the threat.
The odds are often stacked against the protagonists in “Predator” films and that’s even more true this time around with the time period it takes place. It really works to the movie’s advantage, as the audience gets to watch characters rely on their resourcefulness even more so than other films in the series because of the time period.
It’s quite engaging to watch the characters’ inventiveness throughout the movie.
“Prey” is also interesting in how it portrays hunting in various ways. The movie features animals hunting out of instinct, Naru’s tribe hunting for survival, French Voyageurs hunting for greed and the Predator who is hunting for sport.
In all of the scenes that portray this, it sets up how the characters live, what their goals are and what kind of people (or aliens) they are. Naru is picking up on a lot of this, too, and it’s what ends up driving her motivation to identify the threat and protect her tribe.
Naru has a classic hero’s journey over a three-act structure in “Prey,” where her character builds from an eager but naïve young woman to a hardened warrior, ready to accept the responsibilities that come with the status she was hoping to achieve. It’s a simple arc but one that works nicely here to give the audience a figure to become invested in.
Part of what makes Naru really work is the lead performance by Midthunder. She captures her characters longing to be a hunter, her fear of the predator, and eventually, her conviction to protect her tribe and the ruggedness it takes to stand up to the predator threat.
One just wishes the film was a bit less repetitive at times. There are a few moments in the film where Naru is set back on her journey and she kind of has to restart her adventure. It just leaves a viewer wanting a little more forward progress.
The film delivers where it really counts though, with the action. There are some fantastic moments that are thoroughly entertaining. One example is where several Frenchmen try to take on the Predator with a trap of their own, and another is the final climactic battle.
“Prey” is a solid entry into the bloody franchise, with a good protagonist and some creativity at play to hook an audience in, as well as the thrills and kills to keep viewers on board. 3.5 out of 5.