Prey is a better-than-average Predator movie, Bullet Train is an amusing mess and Easter Sunday is lazy
The premise to Prey, a Predator prequel, is pretty appealing. The movie goes back in time to the early-18th century, when Comanche people are already fighting European colonizers but now have to wrestle with another murderous invader. The movie intently flips some of the “savage” imagery and knowing stereotypes in John McTiernan’s original, which cast Indigenous actor Sonny Landham in a supporting role as a soldier utilized for tracking.
This time Amber Midthunder leads, playing a young woman who takes on the intergalactic hunter with her own hunting and tracking skills. The movie is being celebrated for incorporating the Comanche language and getting cultural details right, with Midthunder giving a muscular performance. But she can’t wrestle Prey away from the franchise, which makes the Comanche people and their customs feel like ornamental props in a better-than-average Predator movie rather than fully formed characters who own their narrative. 99 minutes. Some subtitles. Now streaming on Disney+. NNN
Bullet Train is exactly the movie you’d expect from the director of Deadpool 2 giving us his take on a Tarantino-style action pastiche. It’s colorful and chaotic with plenty of nods to better and more genuine Westerns, yakuza flicks and action movies that organize themselves along linear spaces like The Raid. It almost works because the stacked cast including Brad Pitt and Bryan Tyree Henry lean into their comedic chops while playing assassins talking and pummeling each other to a pulp. The movie deserves extra props for making Aaron Taylor-Johnson – who has always felt like dead weight in movies like Kick-Ass and Godzilla – an appealing on-screen presence who actually holds our interest up until the Bullet Train goes off the CGI rails. 126 minutes. Now playing in theaters everywhere. NNN
True Lies star Tia Carrere plays a petty but adoring tita (aunty) in Easter Sunday. That’s a savvy bit of casting in the movie starring and produced by comic Jo Koy. He’s paying loving homage to the Filipino actor who came before him, resurrecting her big-screen career in a role where she can lean into her own culture and not be limited by a white male gaze that often exoticized her.
That’s the best thing about Easter Sunday, which is otherwise a lazy, aimless and frustrating comedy where Koy simply plays a version of himself. The movie, sloppily directed by Super Trooper’s Chandrashekar, recycles gags from Koy’s excellent stand-up that revolve around his overbearing mother (Lydia Gaston) and eccentric extended family, but it makes little effort to adapt them into an involving or coherent narrative. Easter Sunday is satisfied to just be the kind of hang-out movie that Adam Sandler so often gets to make, and then it pats itself on the back for simply existing. 99 minutes. Now playing in theaters everywhere. NNN
Also opening theatrically this week
I Love My Dad
James Morosini, Patton Oswalt; directed by Morosini.
Also new to streaming
Simon Pegg, Eva Noblezada, Jane Fonda, Lil Rey Howery; directed Peggy Holmes