In December 2019 the beginning framework for this film started happening under the guise that it was simply about a Comanche woman subverting gender norms to become a warrior. Director Dan Trachtenberg and co. wanted to keep it a surprise which would have been pretty amazing, but alas word got out and here we are with a “Predator” prequel.
Set in the Comanche nation in 1717, Naru, played to near perfection by Amber Midthunder, is a highly skilled woman who rejects her role in the tribe as a gatherer and healer and seeks to be a warrior and mighty hunter. The choice to bring the franchise back into the wild and set it 300 years ago is the best thing the creators could have done. You get away from cell phones and technologically advanced weapons and strip down your protagonist to a very natural state. The intention of “man versus beast” becomes a bit more visceral, and in this case, it’s kick-ass woman versus beast.
Naru and her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) are both vying for their first “big hunt”, a right of passage for any warrior in the making. When the Predator first arrives, it is mistaken for an aggressive lion, the latter being the perfect animal to prove their worth. Naru uses her natural skills as a hunter to track down the lion but inadvertently stumbles upon an even deadlier foe, thus beginning a bloody and thrilling build-up to the inevitable final battle.
Trachtenberg and his crew create some pretty clever moments and the sound design as the warriors wield their various weapons really brings home the intense and visceral aspect of the fighting. This being a Predator that is 300 years less evolved than what we see in the original film, you can experience the trial and error approach of the beast as it stalks its victims, animal and human alike.
Overall this is a fast-paced thrill ride that is made even more watchable by the sturdy direction, a star-turning performance by Midthunder, and some of the most brutal and bloody kills of the franchise. This is a great entry point for those new to the franchise and a satisfying entry for fans.
3.5 out of 5