The Predator franchise has had many highs and lows over the years. While it goes without saying that the original feature is a classic, other entries such as 2018’s The Predator have been remarkably awful in many ways. Directed by Dan Trachtenberg, Prey is a new release that transports the famous movie monster to a period-piece setting. While the first act is quite poor, the film manages to get better and better with each passing minute. Thankfully, the end result is a rather enjoyable action experience with a variety of memorable scenes.
Following the arrival of an alien creature, a young Comanche warrior attempts to keep her tribe safe. The main character is portrayed by Amber Midthunder. She is joined by Dakota Beavers, Michelle Thrush and Dane DiLiegro.
As Prey begins, we are slowly introduced to our principal cast and the scenario that they find themselves in. While the simple setup is admirable, these moments do little to provide us with a captivating start. The narrative seems to engage with every cliché that sometimes accompanies poorly-made female-led action pictures. Because of this, the lead character appears quite unnatural and, therefore, unbelievable.
A similar problem arises when the Predator enters the fray. There is no tension or build-up with his initial appearance and he doesn’t feel as threatening as he should be. Thankfully, as time passes, these issues seem to disappear. With more time, the protagonist and antagonist are supported by some wonderful sequences, allowing their individual psychology to be a lot stronger.
Amber Midthunder is able to deliver a far more powerful performance in the film’s second half. Her character becomes more likeable too, thanks to a few interactions that add layers to her motivations. She will never become a cinematic icon but she is a decent hero by the time the credits being to roll. On the other side of the coin, the Predator quickly becomes a joy to watch the more we see of him. Some dodgy CGI aside, he eventually becomes a threatening force of nature with a real presence.
In all honesty, the movie is at its best during the incredible action set pieces that fill up the second and third acts. Jeff Cutter’s cinematography is absolutely gorgeous as every fight is shot in a way that is truly awe-inspiring. Furthermore, the final confrontation is not only entertaining but also realistic. It could have easily been cheesy but the filmmakers have used the tools at hand to craft a satisfying ending.
Simply put, Prey is a movie with a lacklustre first act that flourishes into a fantastic finale. Once we get past its introductory issues, the film is rather enjoyable in many ways. This entry may not hold a candle to the original but it does manage to be quite good in its own right.