Dan's Review: "Terminator: Dark Fate" is a welcome reset to a franchise gone off the rails
Nov 02, 2019 12:53AM
By Dan Metcalf
Linda Hamilton, Natalia Reyes, and Mackenzie Davis in Terminator: Dark Fate - © 2019 Paramount Pictures.
Terminator: Dark Fate (Paramount Pictures)
Rated R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity.
Starring Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Stephanie Gil, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta, Alicia Borrachero, Enrique Arce, Steven Cree.
Written by David Goyer, Justin Rhodes, Billy Ray, James Cameron, Charles Eglee, Josh Friedman, and Justin Rhodes, based on characters by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd.
Directed by Tim Miller.
For me (and perhaps for most people), James Cameron’s Terminator franchise began with the first film in 1984 and ended with the second in 1992. In case you haven’t been keeping track (like a majority of audiences), there have been three other Terminator films since then (and a short-lived TV series). Let’s dispense with these last three films right away by revealing that the latest installment, Terminator: Dark Fate has nothing to do with the last three films (Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation, and Terminator Genisys), picking up with the main characters right after the events of 1992’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Let’s just pretend that those movies never happened, like getting a marriage annulment. We can probably assume that these other stories can be written off as “possible” outcomes of another line in the space/time continuum, caused by all that time travel, and leave it at that (or whatever).
The story begins with the appearance of a young woman named Grace (Mackenzie Davis), who drops from the sky through one of those time-machine bubbles. She has been sent from the future to protect Daniella “Dani” Ramos (Natalia Reyes), a young Mexican woman living in Mexico City with her Brother (Diego Boneta) and father (Enrique Arce). Grace is an “enhanced” human, or a person with cybernetic implants that give her superhuman strength and reflexes, like a terminator. Shortly after, an actual terminator drops by Dani’s apartment, intent on killing her. Grace shows up at the factory where Dani and her brother work, just in time to do battle with the shape-shifting cyborg, escaping in a pickup truck on a Mexican highway. When the terminator catches up, it seems it will succeed in killing Dani and her protector until Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) shows up out of nowhere to thwart the machine and get the other women to safety. The trio goes into hiding but eventually are led to Laredo, Texas, where they meet “Carl” (Arnold Schwarzenegger) an older terminator that has adapted to life as a human, marrying a single mom and raising her son as his own. It turns out that Carl has been secretly helping Sarah by using his computer link up to let her know where other terminators will show up, so she can take them out. Sarah has a dark history with Carl and giving any more details about their relationship would be too much of a spoiler. Either way, Carl teams up with Grace, Dani and Sarah to set up an ambush for the new terminator that is after Dani, preparing to finish it off for good. Dani’s life is as important for the future of humankind as Sarah’s was during the 1984 series of events, although with an added twist and much different sequence of events.
Terminator: Dark Fate is a welcome sequel to T2: Judgement Day, unlike the other forgettable films in the series. It’s a needed reset for a franchise that went off the rails more than 15 years ago, drawing back to the first film’s original appeal. It doesn’t hurt to have the Hamilton/Schwarzenegger team back together, supporting the new talent on board. There are plenty of “Easter Eggs” for Terminator fans who are paying attention, from the twists on familiar dialogue (such as “I’ll be back”) and other visual identifiers.
The action and special effects are exciting Terminator: Dark Fate, even though some of them delve into ridiculous territory, like some of the crazy improbabilities of a Fast and Furious movie. I suppose that once you suspend reality into a world where cybernetic assassination machines can travel through time, some of these silly stunts can be forgiven.
I mostly enjoyed Terminator: Dark Fate because of my love for the first two movies, but there’s enough new material for those uninitiated with Terminator lore to enjoy as well. Will the series be back (yeah, I went there)? The future is uncertain on that front, but even if the franchise owners decide to ruin things with more pointless Terminator movies, we can all enjoy this one for now.
"Terminator: Dark Fate" Trailer