As viewers hit the dog days of summer, this new entry in the Predator franchise offers excitement in an otherwise bare time for new film offerings.
As theaters continue to bounce back, it’s weird to look at the upcoming schedule and see that it’s slim pickings when it comes to new offerings, both big and small. However, as it is in every other type of business, supply chains are to blame for the low volume of new offerings at the moment and why we can expect a lull for at least the next little while. Despite that, and despite the latest film in the Predator franchise going directly to Hulu, Prey is a thrilling new offering in the franchise and arguably the best Predator film since the original. Easily the best streaming-only film in recent memory, Prey is a lean, straightforward action thriller that understands its source material.
Prey follows a Naru (Amber Midthunder), a warrior of the Comanche Nation in the 1700s, trekking the land and becoming more skilled at hunting. Not long after audiences meet Naru they learn that hiding via their infamous cloaking device is a Predator, who also is hunting while simultaneously discovering the types of species there are to pursue on earth.
Almost every previous Predator film minus the original has tried to expand on the Predator mythology or has focused too much on the human side of the story at hand. This has often led to mistakes in storytelling, resulting in lesser quality sequels and tarnishing the franchise to an extent, most recently with 2018’s frustrating The Predator. But leave it to director Dan Trachtenberg to take the franchise back to its roots and audiences exactly what they want in a Predator film while leaving out the unnecessary human character story filler material. Everything you like about the Predator character is in Prey from the tension the character creates by lurking in the wilderness under their cloaking device to the clever usage of the weapons and devices to the brutality of the creature from another planet. All of it, understood by Trachtenberg, who is as laser focused on understanding the assignment as the Predator is with its three red dot sight focused on what it’s hunting. And while the first half of Prey takes its time, the second half of the film is intense, action-packed, and makes for what is the best 45 minutes we’ve ever seen in a Predator film, ever.
Prey likely went directly to streaming rather than to theaters due to the track record of previous Predator films excluding the original, and that’s understandable, for sure. Especially in a theatrical landscape where studios are still trying to figure out what audiences want. At the end of the day, audiences want good films, whether they are in theaters or streaming, and that’s what Prey is: a thrilling and mostly engaging popcorn-style film throughout its 90-minute runtime. And I haven’t even mentioned its leading star, Amber Midthunder, who certainly is going to take off following her performance in this film and rightfully so. She’s the best lead in a Predator film since the original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Predator franchise has had its highs and lows for decades, but Prey, like its main character, is exactly the type of roaring experience the franchise has been waiting for in quite some time.