Prey (2022) – Film Review
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Cast: Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Dane DeLiegro
By Roger Crow
If it was ever possible to pump testosterone into a celluloid film strip, then Predator was that movie. Back in 1987, ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger versus a savage ET’ was half of a terrific film. The other half was a bunch of gung-ho soldiers proving which of them was the most macho before being picked off by a crab-faced hunter.
Director John McTiernan hated gun play for no reason, but as this was a Joel Silver movie, he gave the producer what he wanted, and in one scene had a character fire at nothing for ages, which seemed to tick a major box.
There was more of the same with Predator II in 1990, which saw Danny Glover face off against another killer ET in an urban jungle adventure, and a closing scene worthy of merit involving an ancient pistol. Make note of that. It comes in handy later.
By 2004, inevitable franchise monster smackdown Alien vs Predator was good, not great, and then one of the worst sequels ever made, 2007’s Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, which featured one unforgivable scene in a maternity ward, and killed the AVP movie saga stone dead.
By 2010, Predators took place on an alien jungle planet, and proved another hit-and-miss affair, and having pluralised the title (like Aliens), the other alternative was add a definite article. So a few years ago, The Predator saw original co-star Shane Black behind the camera for a fun adventure with some dodgy moments.
Now we have Prey, which is a little like Last of the Mohicans vs Predator, and, as with the original AVP, a female protagonist gets a chance to take on the alien creature.
Kudos to effects genius Alec Gillis for another fabulous job on the make-up front. Yes, it’s another predator, but this one feels more organic and ancient in fitting with the era.
Anyway, we’re in 1719, and the wonderfully named Amber Midthunder (a fabulous lead) is Naru, the Comanche heroine who wants to establish herself: a hunter as good as her male counterparts. But until she can prove her worth in the field, she’ll never win the respect of her clan. If only there were a savage beast out there which could raise her social status. (Any comparisons between this and Beowulf are purely coincidental).
Armed with an axe on a self-made rope, which is handy for escaping from swamps, she goes off into battle while clashing with generic French bison hunters. So yes, it feels like a bit of The Revenant too.
Again the predator’s POV shots, via a thermographic display have been altered, so it feels like a different beast, but the truth is there is far too much preamble to director Dan Trachtenberg’s thriller. We don’t need 20 minutes of world-building to establish what is essentially another revamp of Human vs Predator.
The aforementioned pistol is a clever throwback to Predator II, but as good as this is for half a movie, it lacks the thrills of even a basic Xbox game like Aliens vs Predator: Extinction (one of the best old RTS games which I spent far too much time playing back in the day).
Oh and if you fancy a laugh at the end, turn the sound off and tell your smart speaker to play a certain Take That song over the closing credits.
‘Gary, Mark and Howard versus Predator’. Now that’s a film I’d pay good money to see.