Prey
★★☆☆☆

Perhaps the first Predator instalment since the first that's worth watching, Trachtenberg’s prequel welcomely returns the series to a non-urban, non-franchise-crossing, wilderness adventure structure. However, this new film lacks the mystery, inventiveness, and skilled direction that made John McTiernan’s original a classic of ‘80s action cinema. 1987’s Predator is damn good - far better than its “get do da choppa” reputation. What makes that film so compelling is its distinctive characters played by a surprisingly effective cast known more for their biceps than their acting chops.

The new movie is set in the Great Plains circa 1719 and revolves around a young female Comanche warrior protecting her tribe from the cunning alien hunter. The film should feel different from other contemporary summer blockbusters but it looks and sounds utterly generic in terms of its visuals, character dynamics, and dialogue. The only distinctive lines, sounds, and images are ported over from the original movie.

The first Predator drew a potent parallel between an alien monster who hunts humans for pleasure and sport with a US military that engages in armed conflict and weapons-dealing for-profit and testosterone-fueled adventure. This film discards that subtext and goes all in on the glorification of the "noble hunter." The screenplay substitutes girl-power tropes for character development and foregrounds its indigenous representation to shield its generic action-movie blandness. The film was shot simultaneously in English and Comanche - watch the Comanche version as the subtitled dialogue won’t read as insipid as it sounds when spoken.

There are good ideas here and a few exciting set-pieces, but there's also so much poorly staged action, so many CGI animals, and so many 1700s-era Comanche characters who talk like they're on a high school TV show from the '90s.

Twitter Capsule: 
A rare prequel that doesn't totally ruin the imagined mythology created by the original film. But retelling the Preditor story in a 1700s Native American setting should look and feel way way way less generic than this picture.

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
Produced by John Davis, Marty P. Ewing, and Jhane Myers

Screenplay by Patrick Aison
Story by Patrick Aison and Dan Trachtenberg
Based on the character created by Jim Thomas and John Thomas

With: Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Dane DiLiegro, Stormee Kipp, Michelle Thrush, Julian Black Antelope, Stefany Mathias, Bennett Taylor, Mike Paterson, and Nelson Leis

Cinematography: Jeff Cutter
Editing: Claudia Castello and Angela M. Catanzaro
Music: Sarah Schachner

Runtime: 100 min
Release Date: 05 August 2022
Aspect Ratio: 2.39 : 1
Color