New Written Review from Mike Crowley on You’ll Probably Agree: “Prey”

Word of mouth has spread, and it is true. Prey is a pleasing blockbuster that is superior to its source material. Predator franchise aside, Prey is a movie that identifies with people who are mostly depicted for their downfall, yet rarely their victories. Prey is similar to The Last of The Mohicans, just without the tragic ending. From Jeff Cutter’s sweeping shots of the 1722 Native American Greenland to Sarah Schachner’s haunting score, Director Dan Trachtenberg produces a franchised sequel with the spirit of an independent film. 

My knowledge of Predator is admittedly limited. The most I know of the original is that it’s about a bunch of the muscle guys I grew up on (Arnold Schwartzenegger, Carl Weathers, and Jesse Ventura) going up against something tougher than them. The film was a product of a time I cherish but don’t latch onto. Loaded with quips, biceps, explosions, and gruesome deaths to give you a raging monster energy hard-on, Predator was fun for its time but has grown older than its cast. 

Prey is an embrace not of a new generation but a 300-year-old one. Set in the Comanche lands of 1722, a particular beast is hunting members of Naru’s (Amber Midthunder) tribe. In her mission to kill the monster, Naru’s brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) helps in her quest to save their people. Who better a foe to take on such a freak than those who live in the jungle? Despite all the years of battlefield experience, Arny and the rest of the muscle soldiers can’t compete with those who call the wild their home. What good is a submachine gun if you’re spraying bullets all over the trees, giving away your position to the enemy? 

Prey understands the essence of the Predators—they’re aliens who learn by adapting to their land. By examining nature, the Predator has a leg up above its competition. Sure brute strength is a helpful characteristic which makes the Predator an equal to a necromorph. But for a human to take the Predator on face to face is total suicide. The only key to victory is using the resource of the planet around you—a skill the Native Americans have in their blood. 

The amount of depth to the characters in the story isn’t substantial but enough to invest me in our hero’s mission to kill the Predator. The Commanche care for their people. They’re not just fellow soldiers but blood-bound families whose fatality has a more significant emotional impact than some wise-cracking grunt’s demise. The relationship between Naru and Taabe feels genuine. They’re your typical bickering brother and sister who, despite their differences, will go to the end of the earth to help each other out. The chemistry between Amber Midthunder and Dakota Beavers is genuine, given their Native American heritage being respectfully cast towards the film’s background.

Prey’s greatest strength is its embrace of Native America. Most pictures depict the slaughter of America’s natives, but Prey celebrates its strength, depicting a culture that’s vibrant in physical and mental prowess. The Comanches don’t surrender to the terror of their abusers but rise above them. If you had told me a Predator sequel shows a more celebratory embrace of Native American culture than most cinema, I would have thought you were joking. Now the joke’s on me. 

Some movies never seem to need a sequel. Predator is one of them. Boy, how wrong I was. Of all franchises, I never expected Predator to have the culturally aware character-driven sequel that desperately needs to be on the big screen. Slapping a movie with such a magnificent score and beautiful scenic cinematography on a digitally compressed streaming file is a bleeding shame. But it’s better than not seeing Prey at all. Is Prey a great picture? No. Although there is character development, it’s a tad limited. What nuance there is containing Naru’s place in her tribe or relationship with her family takes a backseat to the Predator’s kill count. That’s not a significant complaint since compromise needs to be made for a commercial product. But the setting never feels like an ad. That is until a camouflaged spaceship enters the frame eliciting some unintentional laughter. The balance in tone between goofy SciFi fantasy and accurate historical representation can get jumbled but not nearly enough to avoid a strong recommendation for those who have Hulu to watch Prey.  

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