Prey is the latest movie set in the Predator universe, and acts like some sort of indirect sequel to the first two movies. I say “indirect sequel” because the movie itself doesn’t really set any kind of connection (as in “and this is why the first Predator took place”) but rather it connects itself to the second movie through a specific item.
The movie follows the same formula as the other movies: predator hunts humans and finally one of the humans defeats the Predator. Except that in this case the one to face the Predator is not some experienced soldier, but rather a young native-American woman.
The movie follows Naru, who wants to be a hunter, but nobody takes seriously. From what I heard in the marketing of the movie, I was under the impression the reason she couldn’t be a hunter was gender roles, but if that was the intention, it wasn’t well presented, because it comes out as simply “she’s not taken seriously” as I said before. There’s even a point where her brother tells her “She’s not ready”, implying that she will be ready at some point. I am not saying the movie should have committed to the message of ”breaking the gender norms”, though, since it wouldn’t really affect the movie (and I don’t expect a movie about an alien hunter to be a faithful representation of Comanche lifestyle).
The action sequences are very good too. There is a very cool action sequence where the Predator is fighting some native-Americans, and the choreography is very well done, without relying on the “shaky camera and quick cuts” that Hollywood movies use nowadays. I cannot say the same about an action sequence between the Predator and some French men, who add nothing to the movie. These men are very incompetent and get finished very quickly, thanks to the Predator’s new arsenal, and this is one of the problems I have with the movie (not the incompetent French men; the arsenal).
A lot of the times, prequels fall into this “tech trap” where they like to add new technology to an established franchise, just because VFX technology allows them to do it. The perfect example is Prometheus, the prequel to Alien. In Alien, you have all this analog technology that looks very rough and inelegant, but Prometheus had holographic projectors and computers that looked like they were designed by Apple. Prey is the same. While the Predator in the original movie had the laser, claws, invisibility cloak and the mini-nuke, the Predator in Prey has the claws, invisibility cloak, a laser-guided dart, a retractile shield that also serves as a slicer, a gazillion different grenades, and an acid net. For some reason, this Predator is way more prepared than the predecessor.
The final action sequence is also very good, although I felt the battle was unearned. To be fair, in the first Predator, Dutch won because he got lucky, in a way: the Predator stood under the trunk that was hanging above them and was crushed by it. In this movie, Naru was obviously not going to win using brute force, so the final confrontation had to play out a completely different way, so she could use her brains and not her muscles. Besides, obviously the final confrontation couldn’t get into “physical territory” because, in this case, the one receiving most of the punches was going to be the small woman and that would have been very uncomfortable to watch.
Overall, this is how the battle plays out, since Naru is using the environment (which she knows very well). However, the victory in Prey required to accept some stuff at face value. For example, she uses a plant to make her body temperature go down, but there isn’t any sequence where she learns the Predator uses thermal vision. We, the audience, know that because we see how the Predator sees, but Naru never “learned” about it in the movie. There are other elements to this battle that share a similar problem. We, the audience, are told about them so we can connect the dots based on “our” knowledge of the Predator, not “her” knowledge.
Even with all its flaws, the movie is worth watching because you get what you expect: action, a Predator finishing a bunch of people, and someone finishing the Predator. The movie is very entertaining and will keep you stuck to your seat. Besides, most characters are likeable, and the ones you should dislike you definitely dislike (and then you have the French men who are just irrelevant). If you have the chance to watch the movie, you should do it.