Movies

‘Prey’: The Meaning of the Pistol


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One would assume a Predator prequel set hundreds of years before any of the previous installments in the franchise would only feature glancing connections to the earlier (technically later) films. But the new movie Prey actually spotlights an object with direct ties to the other movies, and knowing where that object winds up is key to getting a handle on what Prey is doing, and where the franchise could be going next. (SPOILERS to follow for Predator 2 and for Prey, somewhat obviously.)

The object in question is an old flintlock pistol, which becomes an important weapon in Prey’s battle between a new Predator and a young Comanche warrior named Naru, who is the film’s hero. While Prey takes place in 1719, centuries before Arnold Schwarzenegger first declared that if the Predator bleeds, he could kill it, this pistol has been seen in one of the previous Predator sequels.

In Predator 2, hard-boiled LAPD cop Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) winds up in a mano-a-mano battle with a Predator in the bowels of the creature’s ship. With some luck and ingenuity, Harrigan manages to kill the Predator with its own weapon. At that point, a whole crew of Predator creatures appears from the foggy interior of the ship. While the group collects their fallen brother’s body, their leader tosses Harrigan an antique flintlock, apparently as a trophy of his kill.

“Take it,” the Predator hisses. Harrigan inspects the gun, which reads “Raphael Adolini, 1715.”

The pistol’s age hinted at the Predator race having a long history of hunting on Earth — a dangling plot thread that was basically left unexplored for 30 years (at least in Predator movies, it’s come up in Predator novels and comics) until Prey came along to tell the story of the alien creature’s first hunt on Earth.

To further connect Prey to those earlier Predator movies, the Adolini pistol from Predator 2 is the same one that appears in Prey. In the new film, Raphael Adolini himself shows up as the translator for a group of French fur traders. The traders slaughter a pack of buffalo and later capture Naru to use her as bait against the Predator. After the Predator slaughters most of the Frenchmen anyway, the badly wounded Adolini offers Naru his pistol in exchange for medicine for his wounds.

Naru then uses the pistol, along with the knowledge she’s gained in her other encounters with the Predator, to defeat the creature.

Ironically, while the movie inserts the Adolini pistol into the early days of the Predator mythology, it doesn’t actually explain how the Predators from Predator 2 wound up with it. The Predator in Prey doesn’t survive to become one of the aliens we saw in that film; Naru kills it in Prey’s final scenes. And there are no other Predators in the movie to take the flintlock. It remains unclear how the pistol went from Naru back to the Predators so that they could then give it to Harrigan centuries later.

What Prey does imply is that this pistol is more than just some random object. The fact that it wound up in hands of the so-called “Elder Predator” from Predator 2 after it ends this movie in Naru’s possession would have to be either the greatest coincidence in history, or it means the Predators came to believe that the Adolini pistol was an extremely valuable and important weapon because it was used to kill one of their own, and thus they tracked it down and intentionally reacquired it. Which, given the peculiar moral code of the Predators and their love of hunting, would make a certain amount of sense.

Perhaps more importantly, it would give a Prey sequel a ready-made premise. Prey’s animated closing credits strongly hint at exactly that, with Naru’s tribe watching as several Predator ships arrive on Earth, ready for another hunt.

Prey is now available on Hulu.

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