4.5 out of 5 stars
At the height of his acting career, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in one of many franchises that would live on 35 years later. Predator was a massive hit in 1987 and would go on to inspire four sequels as well as multiple crossover films. Then in 2016, director Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) and writer Patrick Aison approached producers about the possibility of the alien hunter traveling to earth during the 1700s to face off against a tribe in the Comanche Nation.
In true Predator fashion, the production survived various stages of development, the Fox/Disney merger, and the COVID epidemic to finally land in homes in 2022. Instead of heavily armored soldiers, the interstellar huntsman must battle with the unassuming warrior, Naru (Amber Midthunder) and her fellow tribesmen. Until then, the Native Americans thought their greatest nemeses were mountain lions, bears, and colonial hunters. When confronted with this advanced creature and his weapons, the huntress and the hunting party must determine if they can defeat this merciless being. Especially since it was unlike anything they had seen before in thier hunting grounds.
Besides being placed in an earlier century, what makes this film stand out from the rest of the series has to be how it is stripped back to its essential elements. Dialogue is kept to a minimum, the countryside is allowed to become part of the story, and the intensity of the action will satisfy the new and devoted fans. Despite the advanced technology, the alien comes up against clever prey that adapts and knows how to fight back. As the story unfolds, Trachtenberg shows the beauty of the First Nations community and makes no excuse for the space invader. Instead of feeling out of place, the character slides right into the era, and nothing seems odd about this species clash.
One element that did have a tendency to undermine the authenticity of the screenplay was the use of modern English language by the Comanches. A necessary choice by the writer for the sake of understandability, but this aspect made less sense than the Predator landing on earth. Yet, it did not diminish the film's overall experience, especially with the exceptional performance of Amber Midthunder and the young cast. They all brought legitimacy to what the viewer might expect of the era when they come up against a French hunting mob and the alien being.
Prey is raw, powerful, and captivating from the opening sequence to the unexpected conclusion. The only question would be why this movie was relegated to streaming, because it should have been given a cinematic run. The landscapes, action sequences, and historical portrayals are suited for the big screen, which may lose some of their impact on televisions. Surprisingly, this turned out to be one of the year's best films, and these accolades are coming from someone who is not a fan of this franchise.
Reel Dialogue: What is the value of community?
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
One element of Prey is the value of the larger community. There is a central character to cheer on. Yet, the only way she survives is through the care and support of the community around her. Throughout the Bible, key figures have been championed in our culture.
Still, they can only achieve their goals by relying on the community around them. Moses, David, Gideon, and even Jesus are excellent in their own way, but see the value and need of the community around them to do their work. ‘No man (or woman) is an island’ is a proverb that should be lived out and is supported in the Word of God.