An action packed romp that plays up the nostalgia while introducing new faces. Oh, and killer robots.
IMDB Synopsis: Sarah Connor and a hybrid cyborg human must protect a young girl from a newly modified liquid Terminator from the future.
Terminator: Dark Fate might not be a seminal film that’ll reverberate though the annals of film history in the way that Terminator and Terminator 2 did. But TDF is a pretty fun ride, and carries the torch spiritually to the aforementioned Terminator series, as it brings back old characters, and wisely omits the three films that followed T2 in its storyline. Inhabiting the same world as T2, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) reprise their roles to effectively pass the torch to the next generation of Terminator stars, while kicking some ass in the process.
TDF doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, opening with the familiar: A robot is dispatched from the future to kill a target and another future being is sent back to stop it. This time it’s a Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) as an impossible-to-kill death machine that can split in to two terminators, and has a proclivity for stabbing implements. Tasked with stopping him is Grace (Mackenzie Davis), a steely eyed soldier from the future whose been enhanced with super speed, and strength, among others things. The target is a young Latina, Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), a fiery and heart-on-her-sleeve type from a middle-class Mexican family. But this isn’t the future that SkyNet built, and this isn’t John Connor part two. The events of T2 altered the future so SkyNet never rose to power, but humanity still managed to blow it and empower another AI, Legion.
The storyline isn’t original (let’s be honest, it’s a rehash of T2, only with much more diversity) but there’s more than enough fun to be had. The set pieces—which range from a factory brawl to jetliner collision to showdown inside a dam—are coherent, but not groundbreaking. But who cares? It’s Mackenzie Davis (a bonafide badass, btw), a grizzled Linda Hamilton (you love to see it), and one-last-ride Arnold fighting a couple killer Terminators around the globe! It’s not Yuen Woo-Ping level choreography or David Leitch-level realism, but it doesn’t have to be. Director Tim Miller‘s setups come at you fast and often, with witty and deadpanned banter to fill the quiet spaces in between.
While the thrill of seeing a Terminator on screen is certainly a draw, the messaging that TDF posits is as important. Even in the face of the apocalypse, TDF chooses togetherness and inclusion to combat what is a thinly veiled jab at fascism (whether it be killer AI or something else). And the effect of the two aging, caucasian superstars of the franchise returning to kick ass and pass the torch to a POC is not lost, either.
While the bar was pretty low, it’s clear that Terminator: Dark Fate is the third best film of the franchise, and a spiritual successor to T2. Focusing on a pared down story, action elements, and likable leads, TDF is a fun trip to the movies, and should score big when the movies goes VOD.
Highlights: Linda Hamilton‘s introduction to the film is a little cheesy but super BA. Arnold as a T-800 is just as dead funny as his T-800 from T2.
MVP: Mackenzie Davis as super soldier Grace. Physicality, grit, determination, heart.. it’s all there. She’s come a long way from San Junipero.
Should you see it: There are worse ways to spend a couple hours. 7/10.
Director: Tim Miller
Studio: Paramount // Original release date: November 1, 2019