For the fifth instalment of the Predator franchise, Director Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) and co writer Patrick Aison (Wayward Pines) have decided to reach into the folklore set by the Raphael Adolini 1715 flintlock pistol that was gifted to Lieutenant Mike Harrigan at the end of Predator 2.
This moment always stirred by interest about how a conflict between humanity and a Yautja would come about, and the notion of primitive representations of both these species coming head to head in the 18th century.
Trachtenberg and Aison present this tale through the eyes of a Comanche tribe, in particular that of Naru (Amber Midthunder – Legion) in her pursuit of becoming a great hunter, but is constantly in the shadow of her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers).
Among the sibling rivalry and respect storyline that pays dividends to the weight of the performance on screen, there is also a nicely handled touch on gender diversity with Naru trying to break the mould of traditions past. Women are deemed the weaker sex, when this assumption is exactly what leads to their strength when coming up against any foe.
On the hunt for a mountain lion, Naru notices that there are some strange things afoot, such as skinned snakes, and unusual bear-like prints in the mud. She suspects there is something larger and a bigger threat in the wilderness, but her tribe neglects her warnings.
The threat of course is our central predator figure (Dane DiLiegro), a much more leaner, and sleek design from the Yautja that we have come to know and love from previous movies, but this version needs to present in a different fashion as it would be another 200 plus years before they would come to Earth again, and advancements in evolution would naturally occur. Initially, I didn’t respond to this look but I soon warmed to it by the film’s end.
The confrontations and slow build up between the predator and Naru are well handled, showing insight into the predator’s curiosity over finding the top of the food chain and crowning itself the apex. It moves from snake to wolf, to bear, before discovering humans’ position in the chain.
Naru’s journey also goes from one of becoming the best hunter to prove herself to the tribe, to one of using all her guile to survive the game.
It’s a deliberately slow and insightful build, which allows the predator to become the prey and vice versa here. The performance from Amber Midthunder is to be commended as she shows her versatility in Naru’s character to become our protagonist and champion for the human race.
The predator is a slick, killing creature, so fans won’t be disappointed in the manner that he eviscerates all that he encounters. There are also great nods to previous ventures throughout this feature, which was a nice touch.
The decision to place the arena in the heart of the Comanche tribe’s own will to survive in the face of white settlement is also to be commended and is handled with respect and dignity, fulfilling Trachtenberg’s intent to do things with the franchise that hasn’t been done before. Depending on the film’s success, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see further instalments come out of the jungle. Especially as it is left unclear as to how that flintlock pistol gets back into the Yautja hands again.
- Saul Muerte