REVIEW — “Terminator: Dark Fate”
A familiar story with relentless action that’s metal AF, Terminator: Dark Fate shakes up the series from the comfort of the originals’ shadow. Directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool), the film stars Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta.
More than two decades have passed since Sarah Connor prevented Judgment Day, changed the future, and re-wrote the fate of the human race. Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) is living a simple life in Mexico City with her brother (Diego Boneta) and father when a highly advanced and deadly new Terminator – a Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) – travels back through time to hunt and kill her.
Dani’s survival depends on her joining forces with two warriors: Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an enhanced super-soldier from the future, and a battle-hardened Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton).
As the Rev-9 ruthlessly destroys everything and everyone in its path on the hunt for Dani, the three are led to a T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from Sarah’s past that may be their last best hope.
Hamilton’s Connor is grizzled and jaded this time around and plays off of the character history she shares with Arnold’s alternate T-800. Although he provides some welcome comic relief, Schwarzenegger literally rides shotgun this time around. As the new female protagonists, Davis and Reyes play strong, determined bad asses, but don’t let the audience through their tough exterior. Their lack of vulnerability cheapens their emotional connectivity, leaving me less interested in their fate.
What I was interested in was the mother/son dynamic between Sarah and John Connor. You know, the one that the entire franchise was built around. Producer and franchise creator James Cameron must have been willing to sacrifice that story line in favor of Dark Fate‘s more empowering narrative. While I disagree with some of the story choices this film makes with regards to ret-conning franchise, I understand the need to clean-up some of the messier aspects of the series’ timeline.
Like most of today’s sci-fi blockbusters, the third act of the film goes a little overboard with the CGI calamity. One minute they’re fighting in a mid-air plane collision, and the next they’re continuing the fight underwater. Of course all of this is happening at night, so it’s hard to make out what’s going on. However, as familiar as the story beats in this film may seem, Dark Fate is still more coherent and entertaining than the franchise’s last installment, 2015’s Terminator: Genisys.
I’m not entirely sure this franchise needs to continue, although I’m sure they won’t stop trying. It seems that our dark fate is to receive another Terminator film every few years that pales in comparison to Cameron’s originals. Fortunately, Dark Fate and the reboots that precede it do nothing to tarnish the legacy of The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. And that’s a good thing. Because when it comes to revisiting this franchise, those are the only ones that I’ll be back for. 2.5/5