Action movies can provide more than an injection of nostalgia. “Samaritan” and “Prey” fit the bill. Both are available on streaming, so let’s get into what makes them worthwhile.
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“Prey” is streaming on Hulu, and it’s worth the free trial period sign-up alone. While several sequels tried (most missed) to replicate the allure of the 1984 original, none could reach that pinnacle. After “Predator 2” with Danny Glover, I just wanted to revisit the original, and savor a better movie. Adrien Brody’s “Predators” entertained, but borrowed off several aspects of the original film and turned some of them into pretentious reaches. However, Dan Trachtenberg’s new-ish film is the best “Predator” movie since the Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring original back in the glorious yet delirious 80’s run of cinema.
Amber Midthunder isn’t someone you’ll be able to find a long list of credits just yet, but the way she commands the movie makes you think she’s been in the movie star game for decades. Her young Comanche warrior-to-be is a versatile human being who quietly smothers an urge to be a hunter, like her ancestors. She doesn’t want to just practice medicine or tend to the sporadic needs of her family, but become a true warrior for her people and mean something. What stands in her way is the first ever Earth visitor that fans of the series will recognize quickly. It’s not long before Dane DiLiegro’s Predator is chasing down the best game, a trail that leads to Naru and her brother (a great find in Dakota Beavers).
What Trachtenberg gets wonderfully right with “Prey” is not just paying homage to the original and crafting a decent hunt/showdown, but laying ground for its own originality throughout the film. It’s not a copycat or a new piece of an established IG chasing down a few watches and dollars from film addicts. It’s a genuine story from this world, and one that could produce more entries if Hulu Original Films were smart.
One more thing. Give it a fucking theater release next time. “Prey” would have killed, harder I guess, in the big houses.
“Samaritan” offers a different kind of action pleasure, inserting one of its oldest and surest stars into the fray as a *supposedly* retired superhero. It’s Sylvester Stallone’s laying-low trash collector that sparks the curiosity of his neighbor, and “Samaritan” superfan Sam (Javon Walton). The two of them slowly put together a friendship, one that hinges on a belief that Stallone’s Joe is the presumed dead superhero-the same one who perished in a battle with his twin brother, Nemesis, years ago. It all sounds pretty silly when you spell it out, but director Julius Avery and screenwriter Bragi F. Schut hit the right chords with their action fantasy adventure flick.
Look, no one should be entering this sort of arena looking for Oscar-winning filmmaking. This isn’t Christopher Nolan or Michael Bay territory either, and the film is better in this particular lane of B-movie freak fly display. Stallone in the superhero genre is every bit as magical as eight-year-old me would imagine, and the older version approved as well. He gives these roles so much conviction because he does own a couple of Academy Award nominations and has the action pedigree to hit the snooze button if he wanted. But Stallone delivers in the role, one with a few layers to it, delivering a thunderous (and surprising) battle cry in the finale.
That’s the cherry on top. Schut’s screenplay has a compelling third act element to it that lifts the material up a notch. It was a hit for me, a pure action film lover. I appreciate when their supposed goals-an indie superhero flick with less CGI and more heart-are met.
Watch “Prey” and “Samaritan.”
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