Prey

.

This is the obvious title for a sequel to Predator when you think about it. Unfortunately all the people who have made sequels to Predator over the years haven’t really thought about things, not really. None of the five films that have followed John McTiernan’s 1987 classic have been very good.

Now though we have a new film in the series that not only stands up to the first movie, it improves on it. Yes, yes, I know a lot of people love the Arnie original but it is pretty corny and it hasn’t dated as well as a lot of other movies of the time. Regardless of your feelings on this though, what Prey unarguably does is realise what was good about that film and build on it which is something that all those other follow up movies have failed to do.

One of the key points about the original Predator is that modern weapons didn’t really work on the monster. It was only when Schwarzenegger’s Dutch started to use more primitive methods of attack and defence that he got anywhere. This hasn’t stopped people constantly going at these evil alien killers with automatic rifles and the like ever since though. I suppose the argument here is that each person in each film has to realise the futility of this for themselves but it’s pretty tedious to watch this same game being played out over and over again. The solution here is to set the story 300 years ago in a time and place where these firearms did not exist. We had Cowboys & Aliens eleven years ago but now we’ve got Native Americans & Predators (this is much better than that film too).

The other thing that was great about Predator was its feminist leanings. Stick with me on this because if you’ve seen Predator then you may not immediately know what I am talking about. I have purported this theory before but I do not think it is a coincidence that the first guy to die in the 1987 film is the one who has demonstrated the highest levels of chauvinism. I’m not saying the alien was a feminist but I think McTiernan might have been and had something to say about these kind of attitudes being depicted on screen. It then continues so that the single person to survive is Dutch who is the only one who has shown any respect for women. It isn’t just men that get exterminated in that jungle, it is decades of sexist sentiment in action cinema, leaving the way clear for a more enlightened approach in the 90s and beyond.

This is certainly a journey we are still on but it is something that Prey fully leans into. Once again those men who most live the patriarchal dream are the first to permanently go night night. Also in this case the protagonist Naru is a woman.

This is handled in a way as to be demonstrably feminist but it still feels organic, even in this historical period. There is also a nice moment when a younger girl in the Comanche tribe looks at Naru and clearly sees her as a role model; something that many others, both from white and particularly from ethnic groups, will also do.

Prey is directed by Dan Trachtenberg and he combines the real world and the other worldly aspects well, just as he did in 10 Cloverfield Lane, although here that are properly intertwined throughout. With this set up, they play with the who is hunting who thing better than they have in any of the previous Predator films, even the ones where these legendary space monsters are pitted against the other legendary space monsters from Alien. Naru is actually setting out to complete the kühtaamia ritual where she must bring home a kill to be accepted as a hunter in the tribe, so she is initially the predator – at least theoretically. She does not play the role of the aggressor any more than that of victim though; be she predator or prey she defies any labels. The deaths here are not as graphic as they have been in previous instalments of this franchise, which shows a more mature approach as well, and the action is gripping and tense. Amber Midthunder is great in the lead role and she and the rest of Indigenous American cast all make this their own under Trachtenberg’s direction.

The strength of Prey then is how it departs from the other Predator films but it has enough connections to the rest of the series to still feel like it is part of the same story. The strongest link is actually to Predator 2 with the inclusion of a certain item from that movie which in turns points to a possible Prey 2. That would be okay though as for the first time since 1990, another one of these movies actually feels like a good idea.

.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s