Completely unexpectedly, PREY executes amazingly in story, action, and visual! This completely badass, straight-to-streaming thriller deserves a theatrical release!
My favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger action film from the 80s has always been the original PREDATOR film. The action, the dialogue, the badass characters, and the fantastic antagonist all came together in a way that was just highly entertaining. The sequel failed to capture the same magic, as the visuals were a letdown, especially near the end of the film. Where the original used a JAWS-like tactic of only showing the antagonist in brief moments in favor of heightening tension with glimpses, the city-based sequel tried too hard and fell short. The quality was a significant-enough step down that I haven’t revisited the franchise for the sequels, many of which got lackluster reviews despite trailers making them look decent.
Imagine my surprise when I start hearing that the direct-to-streaming seventh film featuring Predator was actually good.
Due to factors mostly stemming from sports team allegiances, I’ve always been fascinated by Native Americans and enjoyed learning about them. So when I heard that PREY was set in the early 1700s and focused on a Comanche tribe encountering a Predator, I was all the more interested in watching it.
The visuals are the first part of this movie that struck me as it being something special. Though I often don’t fully appreciate cinematography, I specifically watched the credits to see who was responsible for such a spectacular effort. Although I won’t be surprised when the Academy Awards fail to nominate Jeff Cutter for his work as Director Of Photography, his work alongside Director Dan Trachtenberg did wonders to make this wonderful film look great. The natural beauty of Alberta, Canada perhaps made their job a little easier, but they made the most of it.
Setting the film in the 1700s and thus limiting the weaponry available to the protagonists was a brilliant choice. Though it might seem as though the Comanche wouldn’t stand a chance against the Predator’s alien technological advantages – and in many scenes, they didn’t – it provided the opportunity to show off just how badass the warriors could be. The fight choreography was really well done, with a nice homage to the original.
Another strong point of PREY is the way the story unfolds, showing both the skills and short-comings of the lead character as she tries to prove she’s worthy of being one of the tribe’s hunters. Clearly skilled in many ways, we also see her nearly die multiple times as well, some of those instances having little to do with the Predator itself. Amber Midthunder gives a great performance in a very physically intensive role, showing determination even in the face of fear. Her complex relationship with her on-screen brother Dakota Beavers was both well-written and performed admirably. Though this was his first credit on IMDb, don’t call Amber a new-comer, as her career dates back to 2001 and has 30 different credits on it (a number which doesn’t add to the count the individual episodes of shows she appears on, like the 45 episodes of Roswell, New Mexico she’s in).
As the story shows audiences how badass the Predator character can be, it doesn’t just force audiences to watch as it slaughters members of the Comanche tribe. The filmmakers smartly found ways to bring about battles where viewers would be perhaps less sympathetic to the Predator’s victims by providing additional antagonists, one of which was a Grizzly bear which almost ended the movie early for both the main character and the Predator.
In terms of blood and gore, PREY is actually fairly tame. Sure, there is some limb dismemberment and a decapitation or two, but the way it’s presented isn’t gratuitous, and there’s nothing especially gut-wrenching or nauseating. There’s plenty more blood spilled in the average R-rated comedy over the past few years than there is in PREY. Don’t let that be a letdown for any of the hardcore fans out there, it’s still quite obvious how badass the Predator is without the fountains of blood some might’ve hoped to see. I’m still not 100% sure whether my son is old enough to watch PREY, but I’m leaning towards showing it to him.
I honestly hope that PREY gets released in theaters, because it’s so entertaining and the visuals are so good that I would love to see it on the big screen. Although a month ago if someone had told me that a direct-to-streaming Predator sequel on Hulu would be one of my favorite movies of the year I would highly doubt it, here I am giving it a score that puts it among my favorites of 2022… and I dare say that I even probably enjoy it more than the original PREDATOR.
My rating: 92 out of 100