October 28, 2019 Terminator: Dark Fate (Movie Review)
Movie franchises can get out of hand every now and then. Fans might agree that the Terminator saga is one such example, but Terminator: Dark Fate is here to fix that. Thanks to the wonders of time travel—a deep-seeded concept within the Terminator universe—Dark Fate erases all the films that came after 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day and instead creates a direct sequel to it. Writer/Producer James Cameron (Titanic 1997, Avatar 2009) reunite with beloved stars Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger for the first time in 28 years along with newcomers Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes to bring Terminator: Dark Fate to audiences worldwide November 1st via Paramount Pictures.
Sarah Connor (Hamilton: Children of the Corn 1984, Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991) has changed the future once again. After stopping Judgement Day nearly 20 years earlier and re-writing the fate of humanity, Connor has made it her mission to annihilate any Terminators that dare to cross her. When a highly advanced and deadly new Terminator, the Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series, Wicked City series), is sent back in time to eliminate Dani Ramos (Reyes: Lady, la vendedora de rosas series, Birds of Passage 2018), Dani must team up with Grace (Davis: Halt and Catch Fire series, Blade Runner 2049 2017), an enhanced super-soldier from the future in order to stay alive. As the Rev-9 ruthlessly hunts and kills everyone in its path to get to Dani, the three find themselves teaming up with an old T-800 (Schwarzenegger: The Terminator 1984, Predator 1987) who might be the key to saving them all.
Sure, the time-traveling, save-the-girl plot feels familiar to anyone familiar with any Terminator installment—Connor herself even comments on this—but the film is self-aware enough, adding the right amount twists and surprises to keep it the audience on their toes. Even someone with little or no knowledge of the franchise can sit down and enjoy Dark Fate as it is strong enough to stand on its own, but there are plenty of little tidbits and major callbacks to the first two films to satisfy devotees.
For a film written entirely by men, Dark Fate crafts a compelling trio of bad-ass women who drive the story. Blessedly, these three heroines are all capable of saving themselves, even when the odds are stacked against them. Hamilton shines in the role of beleaguered battle veteran, while Davis and Reyes develop a compelling will-they-won’t-they relationship that can easily carry the Terminator franchise into the future. Plus, Schwarzenegger’s appearances take up just the right space of time without being overpowering.
Luna at the Rev-9 is not your typical villain, either. The Rev-9 is an nearly-unstoppable force for destruction, and easily one of the most advanced Terminators we have seen yet. Still, it feels a bit odd that only a single one of these Terminators is sent after Dani when multiple could have done the job in minutes, but then it would not be a Terminator movie, would it? That in mind, Dark Fate is an Action flick, and that means a myriad of car chases, explosions, bad-ass combat, and huge set pieces in between the aforementioned character-driven moments. The special effects are incredible, with several sequences that are edge-of-your seat intense. If you have the means, do yourself a favor and see Dark Fate in IMAX.
A once long-suffering series, Director Tim Miller (Deadpool 2016, Sonic the Hedgehog 2020) injects new life into the Terminator saga by bringing it back its past, delivering one of the best films this in this franchise, and perhaps one of the best Action flicks this year. By taking the best pieces of the past, Dark Fate is able to bring this franchise into a promising new future. With an ending that feels both definitive and open, Dark Fate could either be the end of a trilogy or the beginning of an exciting new saga. Will there be another Terminator film? Who can say. Here is to hoping it involves Hamilton, Davis, and Reyes. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Terminator: Dark Fate 4.5 out of 5 stars.