Prey film review: This thrilling new Predator movie is the year’s best action flick

Thrilling new Predator instalment pitches the alien against a young Comanche girl and her dog

Prey
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Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Cert: None
Genre: Action, Science Fiction
Starring: Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Dane DiLiegro, Stormee Kipp, Michelle Thrush, Julian Black Antelope
Running Time: 1 hr 39 mins

Since trading fisticuffs with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987, the Predator has scythed its merry way through three sequels, one reboot and two crossovers with the Alien franchise.

It only seems right and proper that the universe’s most marauding (and lest we forget, sporting) tracker finally gets a shot at the greatest hunters that our planet has ever produced.

Set in the early 18th century, Prey concerns Naru (Legion’s Amber Midthunder), a young Comanche heroine, who, despite encouragement from her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) and support from her trusty dog Sarii, can’t convince her male peers of her worth as a warrior.

Naru certainly has the skills and the intellect but, as an early stand-off with a lion illustrates, she hesitates to deliver the final, fatal blow. That’s not entirely a failing: she is somewhat preoccupied having noticed, long before others, a mysterious rumbling in the skies and strange markings and footprints that are larger than anything she has ever tracked.

Her thrilling subsequent quest to survive is complicated by Gallic trappers, wild animals, quagmire, and, well, a murderous, hyper-intelligent extraterrestrial.

By the logic of the film, at least the beastie isn’t French.

Working from a winningly tactile screenplay by Patrick Aison, director Dan Trachtenberg (who previously breathed new life into a franchise with 10 Cloverfield Lane) delivers the year’s best action film.

Midthunder’s compelling main character slogs and slings through her character arc, instead of parachuting in, already fashionably armed with a complete complement of kick-ass skills. The succinct script, which is delivered in English, French and Comanche, takes a back seat to exhilarating set pieces, perfectly timed fight choreography and green-splattered ultra-violence.

Indeed, our only quibble with Prey is that audiences won’t be afforded a chance to experience it on the big screen, where it properly belongs. A far better prospect than even the most ardent Predator fan could have wished for.

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic