Film Review – Terminator: Dark Fate
Terminator: Dark Fate
I saw the Terminator: Dark Fate panel at San Diego Comic-Con this summer, and ever since then, the excitement to see the film has not wavered. This film is the first since Terminator 2: Judgement Day that writer and producer James Cameron has participated in, and due to this, it is a continuation of the Judgement Day, forgetting all the other sequels that came after it. Dark Fate also brings Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor back into the fold to the delight of all of the Terminator fans.
Terminator: Dark Fate opens immediately after Judgement Day, then does a time jump to Guatemala in 1998 when a particular event happens that changes the Terminator storyline forever. The film then jumps forward again to Mexico City in 2020 where the meat of the story begins with Grace (Mackenzie Davis) arriving from the future exactly like a Terminator. Her powers become evident quickly, and she quickly disappears to find her target, Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). Dani is no one special in the present, but she is vital to the future. A Rev-9 Terminator (Gabriel Luna) arrives the day after Grace and is on the same mission to find Dani. Grace and the Rev-9’s roles in Dani’s life become evident when they collide at a factory where Dani works. Grace is here to protect Dani, and the Rev-9 is here to kill her. The initial chase ends on a highway with Sarah Connor showing up to attempt to finish the job, but Grace and Dani don’t stay around to find out who she is. After complications with Grace, Sarah tracks them down and teams up with Grace to protect Dani.
I could immediately tell after the beginning of the film that Terminator’s ultimate fans are going to hate this new film. It essentially rips away any mythology that Judgement Day and Terminator set up. There is now a new future because Sarah Connor and the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) successfully stopped Doomsday and saved John Connor (Edward Furlong), who is the future of the resistance. What Dark Fate does is take known characters and place them into a new, bleak future that creates new paths to attempt to stop it. The way to this new future is a bit ambivalent as Grace tells the story and how she came to be back in the past. This new future that screenwriters David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes, and Billy Ray wrote and many others, including James Cameron, had input into is eerily similar to original Terminator and Judgement Day storyline, almost too close. They had to still have Terminators in existence for apparent reasons, and the tech is precisely the same with some flair here and there. Dark Fate sets up the possibility of more sequels like it to further the story and tackle where Dani is headed in her life.
Taking away the trashing of the past Terminator sequels, Dark Fate is a fantastic action film that has so many action sequences; the film hardly slows down to set up some of the necessary background information. The hardest thing to grasp is that this Rev-9 cannot be killed quickly and has evolved to become two separate Rev-9s if it so chooses. This Terminator is the hardest to kill so far, so Grace has her work cut out for her with Sarah’s help. Luckily, they both have some additional information that may help Dani to survive.
The reintroduction of the T-800 or Carl in Dark Fate was a given. The film was not going to have Linda Hamilton return and not have Arnold Schwarzenegger show up as well. While his presence in the film is not a spoiler, how the trio of women come upon him is one. However, many people have tried to figure out why the T-800 ages and Carl appears older. It is never explained, but think to yourself what would happen if a Terminator stayed alive and continued to exist. Would his human skin wrinkle and his hair turn grey? The T-800 could not regenerate its skin.
While having Linda Hamilton back as Sarah Connor is one of the highlights of Dark Fate, it is the revelation that Mackenzie Davis has what it takes to be an action star. Her character of Grace is a survivor who gives up her future to save someone important in her time. The background of what exactly she is in Dark Fate is again wading into spoiler territory; however, she is human but is capable of doing certain things that Terminators can do with some restrictions. MacKenzie Davis is treading down the same path as Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow. She is an actress who has never been allowed to showcase herself like this, and she does it exceptionally well. She rarely is given a meaty part in films, only supporting roles like in The Martian and Blade Runner 2049. Hopefully her extraordinary performance in Dark Fate will set her on a course to become a household name because she is someone I want to see more of in the future.
Terminator: Dark Fate is a stellar action film that has just about everything you could want in a Terminator sequel, except the continuation of the future that has been foretold to us by every other Terminator film. Linda Hamilton and Mackenzie Davis are the stars of the film hands down, and had they both not been included, it would have been another subpar Terminator sequel. James Cameron would like you to believe that his involvement in this sequel means the series is back on track, but there are going to be many complaints just based on the first five minutes. Director Tim Miller delivers a solid action flick that should bring plenty of enjoyment to the audience, regardless of the direction of the Terminator story.