Prey (2022) Review: – The best Predator film since the 1987 original

In the first Predator (1987), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, and a host of other actors well-known for playing macho characters during that era, forms an elite paramilitary rescue team that is tasked with a mission to rescue hostages in a guerrilla-held rainforest territory. At a glance, the screenplay by Jim and John Thomas screams typical action movie fare, the dialogue, and the male posturing emphasizing that sentiment and doubling down on it. The action set-pieces with explosions and gunfire, directed with flair by John McTiernan, would have made a very competent, altogether decent action movie. Until they dropped a Predator into the screenplay.

The Predator is a technologically advanced alien who is more interested in the fun of the hunt and stalking his prey. By dropping a large alien who can render himself invisible and has advanced weaponry beyond what the mercenaries have in their arsenal, the movie becomes an exercise in subversion, as the run-of-the-mill extraction action movie transforms into survival horror.

The secret of any good Predator movie (because the franchise has had its share of both gold and faecal matter), is to not start as a Predator movie. Predator 2 (1990) begins as a gritty cop movie set in Los Angeles in the middle of a heat wave, where a gang war is already underway between two rival drug cartels. The Predator presents itself in the picture and starts hunting people for sport. The genre mix-up is what makes Predator such an enticing watch, but the deepening focus on the lore or complications of the plot always manages to sidestep the ethos of the franchise in the worst possible manner.

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Prey, Dan Trachtenberg’s 2022 outing, manages to take the ethos of the franchise and craft a tense and surprisingly poignant film. Taking place in the year 1719, acting as a prequel to the first film.

Prey (2022) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

Prey follows the story of Naru, a young Comanche woman who has been training herself as a healer for her tribe. She dreams of becoming a hunter like her brother Taabe, much to the derision of Taabe’s contemporaries and with support from her brother. One day, as she is tracking deer with her dog Sarii, she witnesses the arrival of a “thunderbird” in the sky and decides to take that as an omen that she is ready to prove herself as a great hunter and lead a big hunt.

As Taabe agrees to take her with him to hunt a mountain lion, Naru and the tribe discover one of the wounded members of their tribe, the mountain lion having been spooked away by a mysterious creature able to render himself invisible and watch the tribe’s movements. In a subsequent scene, what Naru had inferred as the “Thunderbird” is revealed to be a “Predator” ship, housing one of the Predators, who have already begun hunting and ripping spines out of other animals in the wild when the Comanche nation begins to hunt.

Prey (2022) Movie Analysis:

It’s fascinating how much Trachtenberg and screenwriter Patrick Alston manage to delve into and expand on both the Comanche Nation and the character of Naru. This ensures a fantastic representation of the Comanche Nation, but the secret sauce in Trachtenberg and Alston’s story is how the story is essentially Naru’s coming-of-age story of evolving as a Comanche hunter and later tribe chief. By following her as she understands and tries to figure out why the animals are, in a way, getting disrupted because of the presence of a mysterious apex predator, we see her developing her tools and figuring out her terrain and its inborn rustic treachery (the quicksand).


It is in sharp contrast to the predator itself, who we see stalking, trying to figure out the animals and how to intercept and hunt them. On the one hand, it is a coming-of-age story for the young Naru, on the other hand, it is a fish-out-of-water scenario for the Predator itself, as it is figuring out its terrain and its prey and the world itself. For Naru and the rest of the tribe, things become a mite bit complicated when French Voyageurs capture her while she is trying to escape after having seen the Predator for the first time.

After capturing her, they order their translator, Raphael Andolini, to convince her to help them. When she refuses, they tie her and her captured brother Taabe as bait for the Predator. The aspect of the movie which struck me here is how these characters are treating this creature as any undiscovered animal in the wild. It reaffirms the statement that this movie would have worked if you replaced the Predator with any other normal earth-based creature as a representative of the antagonistic aspect of Mother Nature.

The movie still would have worked as a period-western dealing with the effects of colonialism and its encroachment over lands not yet affected and unvarnished (as inferred by the skinning of the bison off of their pelts and leaving the entire herd). It also could work as a slow march of modernity’s tendrils affecting the day-to-day lives of the indigenous tribes (as seen by the weapons utilized by the French Voyageurs). But the Predator’s arrival just enhances all of these aspects, putting the Voyageurs on the back foot, their reliance on their modern weapons failing against the far more advanced weaponry and the enhanced strength and cruelty befitting that of the Predator. It ultimately boils down to Naru, with her knowledge of the world around her and her ingenuity in combating the Predator.

Trachtenberg’s pacing of the story is on point. Not losing sight of the coming-of-age aspect of the story, he also manages to flesh out the world with its foliage and greenery, aided by Jeff Cutter’s fantastic cinematography. His liberal utilization of wide shots manages to both encompass and show the scale of the open areas and also manages to impact the viewer with the framing of the shots as the violent acts occur.

Trachtenberg also utilizes the trick of focusing on an isolated frame for a few seconds longer to enhance the feeling of dread and question whether the Predator is hiding, irrespective of the fact that the invisibility device utilized by the Predator has a shimmering effect that the viewers can identify. The reveal of the Predator is the most serious criticism that could be leveled.

Trachtenberg chooses to show the Predator to the audience in the first act itself, instead of letting the audience be in the dark along with Naru and the other tribes as they finally manage to come across the Predator, and the Predator itself is revealed after it’s invisibility device is damaged by a stray arrow. The capturing of the reveal through the low-angle takes would have worked perfectly well as the initial reveal of The Predator in his full glory. Sarah Schachner’s score is non-intrusive, managing to evoke the atmosphere and soundscape of the environment, only kicking in when the battles with the Predator kick into high gear.

Prey (2022) Ending Explained

How Does Naru get the Flintlock Pistol?

As the Predator kills the Voyageurs who had planned to trap it by using Naru and Taabe as bait, Naru manages to cut the rope tying both Taabe and her to the trunk of the tree by cutting it using a bear trap. Managing to escape through the foggy jungle, Naru returns to the camp and finds an injured Andolini, who teaches her to use the Flintlock Pistol in exchange for healing his wounds and stopping the bleeding. Naru uses the orange herbs on Andolini, which manages to cool the blood enough to stop his bleeding. However, realizing that the Predator has found them, Naru runs away and hides while Andolini plays dead.

The Predator is unable to discern Andolini’s deception because the heat vision in his visor was unable to read Andolini’s signature. However, it kills Andolini when it steps on Andolini’s knee stump, forcing Andolini to cry out in pain, revealing himself. Taabe comes on horseback to rescue Naru by distracting the Predator and weakening it by getting a few shots in through his spear. However, the Predator manages to activate his invisibility cloak to sneak up and kill Taabe in front of Naru.

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Does Naru kill the Predator?

Naru escapes with her dog Zaari into the woods, where she finds the surviving leader of the Voyageurs who had previously tortured Taabe. Knocking him out, she severs his legs and hands him an unloaded gun before eating the orange herbs to hide her heat signature. She watches as the predator kills the Voyageur, and while it revels in the good hunt, Naru finally manages to shoot him in the head from behind, knocking the mask off of the creature and running deep into the woods at the area of the quicksand where she had previously fallen into and barely managed to get out alive.


Naru had realized through her fighting against the Predator that the Predator was a fan of the hunt and not unarmed bait. Managing to completely be at one with her location, Naru lures the Predator into the mud pit by injuring him with her axe while her dog was able to distract him. She had also managed to blind him by breaking off one of its teeth when the sharp slicers in his gauntlets were slowly cutting through the roots and precariously close to cutting through Naru’s neck.

As the Predator falls into the quicksand, Naru repeats her brother’s last words: “This is as far as you go. No More. This is it”—an inversion signifying the predator becoming the prey, as Naru moves away and reveals the Predator’s mask, which detects a hostile movement and lases the predator, killing it. Naru paints her face with the green blood of the Predator and brings the head and the Flintlock Pistol back to the tribe. She tells them of the arrival of the white men, the voyageurs, and how they should search for a new home. The tribe honors her victory with cheers, and Naru beams with pride as the movie ends.

How does the Pistol in Prey connect the franchise?

The Flintlock Pistol, which had an engraving of “Raphael Andolini 1715”, was gifted to Naru by Andolini, the translator among the Voyageurs. This same Flintlock Pistol was seen at the end of Predator 2. The events of that film take place in 1997 when the Predator known as City Hunter battles LT. Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) is on one of the Predator ships. When Harrigan finally defeats the Predator, the revelation unfolds that a group of cloaked Predators has been watching the battle. After decloaking and revealing themselves, they give Harrigan this same Flintlock Pistol before flying away.

The events of Prey show the gun at the hands of the Comanche, which sets up the gun to return to the hands of the Predators sometime in the future. It also manages to make the short story Predator 1718, which had previously explored the origin of the same gun in vastly different circumstances (Raphael Andolini was the leader of a small group of pirates who came face to face with a Predator), effectively non-canon.

How does Prey sets up a sequel?

Before you wonder at this baseless speculation of a sequel, the movie sets itself up for one. As the mid-credits scenes brush through the events of the movie via animated drawings resembling cave paintings, the final drawing reveals a group of Predator ships decloaking. It could mean more Predator ships coming through to attack the Comanche in retaliation for the murder of the Predator, or it could mean the Predators’ appearing on Earth for generations hence.

This also manages to make sense within the head cannon of the Predator franchise about the Predator. The almost fish-out-of-water scenario we see for the Predator in this film could mean that this is one of the earlier iterations of the Predator and thus a bit more inexperienced. It is still far more advanced and brutal than humans, but compared to the Predator we see in 1987’s Predator, it is not nearly as invincible. It could also mean that the species of the Predator learns and advances itself from its interactions with the different planets it visits.

Final Thoughts:

In a franchise that had lost the ethos of what made it enjoyable in the first place and also mired itself with two ill-advised crossovers (Alien Vs. Predator and Alien Vs. Predator Requiem), Prey is a surprising breath of fresh air. It manages to breathe new life into the sci-fi horror genre while also managing to maintain the essence of the best Predator films-make a completely separate movie and drop a Predator into it as the antagonist.

“Prey” embodies the DNA of the Predator franchise, yet stands out as its own entity. Amber Midthunder delivers a perfect portrayal of a strong protagonist. The storyline actively avoids entanglement in minutiae and extensive world-building through its simplicity. Instead, it concentrates on delivering a spectacle rich in violence. The best movie since the original Predator, Prey is a must-watch that also perfectly works as a stand-alone film.

Read More: What is the connection between Prey and the Predator Franchise?


Prey (2022) Movie Links – IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Cast – Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Dane DiLiegro, Stormee Kipp, Michelle Thrush, Julian Black Antelope
Where to watch Prey

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