Cast: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes
Director: Tim Miller
After two poorly made and poorly received installments of the Terminator franchise, it’s about time we got something new to try to revamp this franchise and return it to its former glory. I don’t think anything made today will match the success of the first two movies, but with a couple of changes you can at least get something serviceable to present to audiences and give them a taste of what they’ve been asking for for so long. While it certainly has its problems, Terminator: Dark Fate provides a solid level of entertainment, visual effects, and nostalgia over the course of its 128 minute runtime.
The film follows Dani Ramos (Reyes), a young girl being hunted by a terminator from the future who wants to prevent her helping the human resistance succeed against the robots. When a Grace (Davis), a humanoid who goes back in time to protect Dani and Sarah Connor (Hamilton), a human who has been hunting terminators for decades meets up with them, the three must work together to stay alive and prevent the terminator from completing his mission. The way I look at Terminator: Dark Fate is it’s a perfect action movie for the 21st century. Sarah Connor is known as one of the best female protagonists of all time and giving her two strong women to work with helps make the movie more accessible to modern audiences. Not only that, but these characters are believably strong regardless of their gender which makes them that much more believable for those watching. When Grace or Sarah pull off some amazing move in an action scene, it’s reasonable to think they can do it. Outside of the main heroes, the introduction of the Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) as the film’s antagonist provided one of the most menacing and creative villains of the franchise. His strengths and the film’s abilities to show them are impressive and might make him the best villain since the second movie. It takes those shape-shifting abilities that we loved in the past and modernized them for today’s movie-going experience and it works well. The main issue preventing Terminator: Dark Fate is how the story tends to undermine the great setting and characters that are created along the way. The one thing some people will get very upset about are the changes to the original John/Sarah Connor storyline. I can say I was legitimately stunned with the choices here as it completely undoes two full movies worth of decisions and I didn’t necessarily agree with was done here. I understand what the writers were going for, but in this circumstance it doesn’t work out quite how they imagined. While the new characters are strong, at times they feel a little manufactured for their own good and trying to adapt a message for a new culture instead of letting these characters act like they are fighting for their lives. I understand what the film was going for on both fronts, but this is a franchise established on action and suspense, and I don’t know if this plot shift was really necessary for a movie like Terminator: Dark Fate.
Overall, Terminator: Dark Fate takes the franchise back to a solid level, but it doesn’t come close to the greatness of the first two movies. Sure it’s nice to see Hamilton back in the limelight as her most famous character, but the nostalgia can only take this movie so far before it has to become its own entity. It’s absolutely entertaining and fun enough to carry the weight of the current state of the franchise, but when we’ve seen how much better these movies could be, you can’t help but feel a little disappointed.
Overall Score: 6.5/10