Prey Review: Predator Franchise Finally Hits Its Stride

By setting the film in the 17th century and placing the Predator in conflict with a Native American tribe and a female warrior, the movie immediately creates a greater sense of tension: How can this relatively arcane civilization—when compared to the creature itself and modern day militaries—defend itself against a thing that must seem like a god? Can arrows and spears work against an invisibility cloak and plasma weapons?

The setup and plot, largely devoid of the attempts at background mythology that has bogged down other entries, is simplicity itself, as Naru, her brother, and several other warriors head into the forest to find what’s stalking their village and kill it, only to get much more than they bargained for.

As Naru, Midthunder (recently seen on Roswell, New Mexico and opposite Liam Neeson in The Ice Road) has an appealing, no-nonsense believable presence, even if her range is somewhat limited. The rest of the cast, comprised almost entirely of Native American and First Nation actors, is similarly physically impressive even if their characters are barely sketched in.

The biggest mistake the movie makes, however, is the way in which it handles dialogue. While the film is in English with a few Comanche words here and there, the young actors make no attempt at all to sound like humans from an earlier era; much of the dialogue is delivered as if they’re twentysomethings living in 2022 who are doing some cosplay in the woods.

It’s jarring, especially when set against their visual accuracy and detail, and takes one out of the movie (there is an all-Comanche version available, which might work better, but we’ve not had a chance to sample it).

That aside, the cast is convincing in the action scenes, and director Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) keeps the narrative moving at a brisk clip. As for the Predator itself (played this time by former pro basketball player Dane DiLiegro), it’s essentially a modest variation on the classic template. We have a slightly different look and array of weapons, but it’s still recognizably the Predator. Also the effects, a mix of DiLiegro in the suit and CGI, are actually handled quite well.

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