When I first saw the trailer for Prey, my first thought was, “Huh?” “What?!” Part of the reason for my bewilderment is that I had recently seen The Predator (2018). It is franchise-crushingly bad, which I explained in my review of it. It also took me a moment to realize what I was seeing, and once I did the disapprobation set in further. It was like somebody said, “Hey, you know what would be cool? Predator and Native Americans.” And somebody with enough money said, “Okay.” This is the result of that completely hypothetical conversation. A more concrete reason for its existence, though just as silly, is to pay off certain moments set up in the first two films in the franchise. Who was one of the coolest characters in Predator (1987)? The Native American Billy Sole (Sonny Landham), hence the angle in Prey. Then there is the ancient flintlock pistol given to Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) at the end of Predator 2 (1990). It bears an inscription on the handle declaring it to be from 1719. You guessed it. This is the time period in which Prey is set. Had I been in charge of making this film, there would have been a lot of changes I would have made and shall discuss, if it had to be made at all.
The native people we look at in Prey are the Comanche. Because few people watching this movie have any idea where this group of people actually lived in that day and age, they chose to have this band wandering the Northern Great Plains. I know what I am looking at, and I was annoyed. In any case, early on we meet our main character, Naru (Amber Midthunder). She is trained as a healer, but she wants to be a warrior. She is a dreamer, too, and when she witnesses the Predator spaceship coming to Earth, she takes it as a sign that she must continue on this new path. Of course, nobody back at their village will believe her. Still, her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers), allows her to tag along on their hunt of a mountain lion that has been spotted stalking in the vicinity. She is not to take part in the hunt, just observe, but the taunting of the others on the trip goad her into striking out on her own. Doing so takes her up into a tree and face-to-snout with the animal they are tracking. Unfortunately, the branch underneath her breaks, and the fall renders her unconscious. She comes to back in her teepee. Adding insult to injury is the fact that shortly thereafter Taabe returns with the dead mountain lion, earning the accolades she had hoped would go to her. Still, Naru’s desire to prove herself is strong, and she believes there is something else out there that could be an even bigger threat. Thus, she heads back out with her dog to see what she can find. Her trek takes her to a field where there are several downed buffalo, evidence of white hunters, and through a bog in which she almost gets stuck. The big moment comes when she is attacked by a bear. In the course of her fleeing from the bruin, it is in turn killed by the Predator, and she sees the alien for the first time. There is, indeed, something deadlier on the loose. On the run again, she stumbles into a trap planted by French trappers (which is the wrong time period for them, but whatever, I guess). Seeing her in this predicament, the Predator moves on, believe her to no longer be a threat. Shortly thereafter the band of Frenchmen find her. They, too, are aware of the Predator, and want to hunt it. They try to get their interpreter, Raphael Adolini (Bennett Taylor), who is Italian for some reason, to get her to talk but she refuses. They apply pressure by indicating that they have another of her kinsman in custody, and it turns out to be Taabe. Instead of torturing Taabe, they decide to use both of them as bait to try and bring the Predator to them in the hopes of killing it. Unsurprisingly, this backfires spectacularly on the Frenchmen, and most of them are killed. In the ensuing chaos, Naru and Taabe manage to free themselves, and they return to the French encampment to retrieve her dog. While Taabe goes to find horses, Naru searches for her pet and finds Raphael, one of his legs being cut off. In exchange for her help, he agrees to give her his pistol (see introduction). What she gives him is a substance that lowers his body heat and stops the bleeding. However, this is also the moment when the Predator returns. As I am sure we all remember from previous entries in this franchise, Predators see a person’s body heat. Thus, his reduced temperature makes him invisible until the Predator steps on him. Sensing that Naru is in trouble, Taabe charges in and attacks the Predator. Together, they wound the Predator, but Taabe dies in the scuffle. Still, Naru has learned a number of secrets about the extra-terrestrial, and sets a trap for it. In doing so, she manages to get a hold of its mask, which she then uses against it when it attempts to target her without the use of its guidance system. Triumphant, she takes its severed head, paints her face with its blood, and returns to her village to become the new War Chief.
I hope you noticed the points in the synopsis of Prey’s plot that annoyed me. I would hate it if I did not pay that off from the introduction. Having voiced my concerns, I will say that I did not hate the movie. It would have been better if they had gotten certain historical details correct, but those only interest nerds like me. What I appreciate about it is Naru’s determination to prove herself. That can also be problematic from a Christian point of view. There is nothing wrong, in general, with striving to be the best person you can be. The path to Heaven is a narrow one, and as such, one has to work hard to stay on it. It is a delicate balancing act between doing the right thing at all times and being a perfectionist. Naru struggles with this throughout, and you can see it in her frustration with herself after the mountain lion incident. Luckily, she has a charitable big brother who, though his timing could have been better, reminds her as they are tied up together that she had been able to wound the big cat, allowing him to finish it off. This is like the voice of God telling us how much He loves us. We will stumble on our individual journeys to Heaven, or take a tumble from a tree. God can speak through the kind words of our family and friends to let us know that we are not alone. And of the innumerable great things about God is the fact that we do not have to prove anything to Him. He loves us whether we are a healer or a warrior, and loves us still when we chase after something else. If you keep the faith, as Naru does in her own way, then eventually you will find your place.
Oh, I am sure they will make another film like Prey featuring the familiar Predator. If there is one thing that Hollywood loves, it is brand recognition. It takes out a lot of thinking that needs to be done in order to sell something. Anyway, it is a somewhat interesting, if flawed, twist on a played-out theme. Do with that statement as you wish.