“Prey” is a powerful and moving film about a woman’s courage and strength
“Prey” provides many reasons to be praised. However, what makes the latest installment in the “Predator” franchise truly stand out is Naru, Amber Midthunder’s aspiring Comanche hunter. According to tradition, women are designated as caregivers, responsible for domestic tasks. However, Naru does not subscribe to this role. She is more at home tracking game with her loyal dog Sarii by her side. It is through this activity that she crosses paths with an enormous bipedal alien that sees Earth as its own game preserve and humans as the ultimate prize. When Naru tries to warn her peers of this creature, they do not believe her.
A couple of years ago, I spelled out my frustration at pop culture’s persistent rehashing of the white warrior woman archetype, lamenting the dearth of such leading roles for women of color. “Prey” delivers a potent response through Midthunder’s Naru, a warrior who is not a divine weapon or designated to fulfill some distant purpose, but simply someone who wants to protect her home and her people. In the film, she tries to warn them that a new danger is nearby; they think the tracks she’s found belong to a bear. Instead of leaving that problem to them, however, she heads out to confront it . . . solo.
Naru knows things, like how to gather and use medicinal plants, and notices things men don’t, like the way the otherworldly butcher hunting the rest of her party uses his tools and how they work. No one except for her brother Taabe (Dakota Beaversis interested in helping Naru to complete the rite of passage known as Kühtaamia, requiring warriors to successfully track and confront prey that’s also hunting them. So she trains hard, innovates improvements to her weapons to make up for what she may lack in brute strength, and learns to live her life as she sees fit.
With caution and courage, Naru brings home the head of the same type of alien that nearly ended Arnold Schwarzenegger’s special forces commander in the original “Predator” movie. This act also proves that these lethal aliens are equal opportunity foes: neither Dutch nor Naru are strong enough to physically overpower a Predator. They can only defeat it by being intelligent. This is why women have survived Predator encounters before, as shown in ‘s “Alien vs. Predator,” where Sanaa Lathan’s artic guide outlasted her alien fighting partner.
Raga’s Isabelle lives through the hunt to survive another. However, and no shade to those ladies, Naru’s triumph is hers alone, earned by employing ingenuity and bravery that isn’t explained by any mystical boon or prophecy.
The film is a work of meticulous creative precision, from the director’s decision to shoot the film in versions featuring the English language and the Comanche language, to the producer’s dedication to presenting the details of th-century life in the Comanche Nation as accurately as possible. The director, producers, and cast have all worked tirelessly to create a film that is accurate and respectful of Native culture.
What we can learn
Raga’s Isabelle is a smart and resourceful young woman, who uses her skills and courage to survive in a dangerous world. Naru’s triumph is her own, earned through her own hard work and determination.