Terminator: Dark Fate Review #2


Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor
Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800 / Carl
Mackenzie Davis as Grace
Natalia Reyes as Dani Ramos
Gabriel Luna as Rev-9
Diego Boneta as Diego Ramos
Ferran Fernández as Flacco
Tristán Ulloa as Felipe Gandal
Tomy Alvarez as Lucas / Floor Guard
Tom Hopper as William Hadrell
Enrique Arce as Vicente
Manuel Pacific as Mateo
Fraser James as Major Dean
Pedro Rudolphi as Cholo
Diego Marínez as Cesar Mateo
Kevin Medina as Pepito

Directed by Tim Miller

In 2020, a familiar story unfolds. Two combatants from the future arrive with a mission that will decide the fate of mankind. One is a killer robot dubbed a “Rev-9” sent to assassinate Mexican native Dani Ramos. The other is Grace, a human with technological enhancements, sent to protect Dani. As the two arrive in Mexico to track Dani down, chaos is unleashed in their wake.

But just as the Rev-9 corners Dani and Grace and all seems lost for them, an unexpected rescuer comes to their aid – Sarah Connor. After preventing Judgment Day, additional Terminators have arrived from the future as timelines continue to shift and change. Sarah has devoted her life to hunting these new Terminators down as they arrive. She’s driven to prevent the next Judgment Day.

Unfortunately, even Sarah Connor finds herself overwhelmed by the new Rev-9 and the trio of heroines go on the run. Their only hope is finding a mysterious benefactor who holds the key to their fates.

“Terminator: Dark Fate” is rated R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity.

What Worked:
Since “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”, there have been three sequels and a TV series. Each one has had their fair share of high points and low points and this fourth sequel is no different. Let’s start by focusing on the highlights.

There’s one thing that all the Terminator sequels have been missing – Linda Hamilton as the original Sarah Connor. Her return is the high point of this film and Hamilton’s presence alone elevates this otherwise bland sequel. Seeing her again is a reminder of her iconic performance in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”. She’s tough, driven, and one of the baddest mothers on the big screen. Honestly, I think Linda Hamilton could have carried this movie even without Arnold Schwarzenegger.

All of that being said, Mackenzie Davis as Grace is a great addition to the series. She’s tough, a survivor, and clearly cut from the same cloth as Kyle Reese. The idea of a technologically enhanced human is a cool new element that allows our heroes to go toe to toe directly with the robots. Davis is fantastic in the fight scenes and a character you want to learn more about, especially as we see flashbacks to her life in the future.

Gabriel Luna also is good as Rev-9, the new Terminator which is a combination of the classic T0-800 robot and the liquid metal T-1000. While there’s not a lot visually new to the design, the speed and tactics of the Rev-9 make it one of the more lethal nemeses in the series.

“Terminator: Dark Fate” features a number of notable action scenes, but the most remarkable is the opening battle between Grace and the Rev-9 on the highway as seen in the trailers. While it features a lot of action, what makes it notable is the speed of the fight. Grace’s enhancements allow her to do battle at lightning speed and it makes the fight from the previous films look like sleepwalking by comparison.

What Didn’t Work:
The biggest problem with “Terminator: Dark Fate” is that it does almost nothing new. It’s basically the same plot of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” with a few new faces. It’s still a fight to save a future Messiah. It still features Sarah Connor coming to terms with the Terminators. It still features a liquid metal bad guy. I kept waiting for some big twist or turn to set it apart from the other sequels, but it never came. A good sequel expands on the characters and build the world further. “Terminator: Dark Fate” does not do that, even with James Cameron contributing to the story.

In this film Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a new Terminator dubbed “Carl”. I can’t get into how or why Carl is there without delving into spoilers, but I both liked and disliked this character. On the one hand, when Carl was revealed, people in the audience literally broke out into laughter at the absurdity of where he was living. Carl is in a situation that is kind of unceremoniously dumped on us and never really earned through the course of the story. On the other hand, Sarah Connor expresses anger and disbelief on the part of the audience, so that helps. And when you start thinking more about Carl’s situation, it does bring up a lot of intriguing questions. When a Terminator is sent into the past and completes it’s mission….then what? Where does it go? What does it do? “Terminator: Dark Fate” explores that to some degree and it is one of the few bits of originality in the story. Unfortunately, Schwarzenegger’s appearance in the film takes the spotlight away from Sarah Conner and the movie soon devolves into an ending that feels much like “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” or “Terminator Genisys”.

Finally, I feel like the R rating is largely wasted with “Terminator: Dark Fate”. The first film “The Terminator” offered enough gore and horror to scar you for life. There’s none of that here. About all that earns this movie the R rating is a few bare butts and Sarah Connor saying “f**k” a lot. I feel like they either needed to go PG-13 to get more kids in the theater and bump the box office or go full R rated with stronger gore and action.

The Bottom Line:
If you’re a Terminator fan like me, you’ll check out “Terminator: Dark Fate” on the big screen no matter what. But as far as Terminator movies go, it’s just OK. It’s a decent action movie and popcorn flick. If you wait to watch it on TV you won’t be missing much. I’ll be surprised if another Terminator sequel continues this storyline after the three other failed reboots.

Opening Friday November 1, 2019
Scott Chitwood
Rating = 6.5 out of 10