It’s basically its own remake of “Judgement Day.”
Linda Hamilton is back as Sarah Conner, who prevented the future of Skynet from happening, and saves her son John, the future leader of the Human Resistance. That is until another Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) finds its way in their timeline and eliminates him.
That’s how “Terminator: Dark Fate” begins, but it should have done more than just promise to deliver on its premise. For one thing, the heroes are more interesting than its formulaic damsel in distress. And for another thing, it should have taken more risks, instead of just copying ideas from “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.”
Despite being a wanted fugitive, Sarah Connor comes back to help protect a young Hispanic girl named Dani (Natalia Reyes) from a new breed of A.I.-ones that occupy the bodies of any human it comes across, and leaves them dead in the process. The new model (Gabriel Luna) is known as Rev-9. His exoskeleton even allows him to split into two for all it cares.
Dani is also protected by a super-enhanced solider from the future named Grace (Mackenzie Davis), who is also trying to prevent the war she’s engaged in. This one is not caused by Skynet, but instead Legion is the new name. That’s where the Rev-9 model was created.
And this young girl, to me, starts off as a whiny, annoying dope, who nearly gets herself killed when her relatives get slaughtered, doesn’t know that her phone can track her down, and when she gets detained with Sarah and Grace by border patrol, she tries to tell an officer they’re in danger from the machines. I can imagine Sarah thinking: “I tried that and ended up in a hospital.”
But as the film’s reel keeps going, she’s able to prioritize her choices. In fact, her future self proves to be better than her younger self.
The two women I found most engaging were Hamilton and Davis. They both have the dialogue, brains, and struggles to survive in their own timelines. And I really admire how infuriated Sarah gets at the Schwarzengger T-800 model for murdering her son, when she’s forced to reunite with him. Even he offers some sly wit, and claims he has gained a conscience. And Luna offers some of his own Robert Patrick qualities as the Rev-9 model.
“Terminator: Dark Fate” was directed, this time, by Tim Miller, best known for “Deadpool,” and was produced by James Cameron, the genius behind the original films. They both bring back the special effects, nostalgia, and stars, which made the franchise so iconic, but the story goes all over places and ends up being obvious. It just makes you assume: you destroy the machines, you save the future. End of story.
I am grateful for this: at least it’s marginally better than its last few sequels.