Not even James Cameron’s return as Producer of a Terminator flick was able to save the dying franchise. The latest Terminator movie Terminator: Dark Fate was expected to be the direct sequel of Terminator 2: Judgment Day but ended up as an updated version of the flick, with more minuses than pluses. Just like Terminator 2 was the upgraded version of The Terminator with swapped roles for Arnold Schwarzenegger, the new movie has Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor returning, this time as the hunter instead of the hunted. Despite the presence of both Terminator regulars, the Dark Fate fell flat because here, everything that should have taken time, happens fast and whatever should have happened fast, takes time.
The Plot – Been there, done that!
The story takes place in the late 1990s after Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) had saved the world with her son John Connor but after tragedy strikes, she vows to hunt Terminators forever. Twenty two years later, she is doing just that when two new terminators arrive from the future. While Grace (Mackenzie Davis) appears to be a superhuman fighter, Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) has more or less the same capabilities of T-1000. They have a new target in sight named Dani (Natalia Reyes) who is supposed to play an integral part in the fight against the machines in the future. With the help of Sarah Connor, the three women follow a lead that leads them to an old foe helps them in their fight against the big bad Terminator.
The Good – Mackenzie Davis does the heavy lifting
Mackenzie Davis’s Grace is the saving grace of this flick, as she shines in the presence of veteran Terminator actors. Her superhuman fighter from the future (who needs to recharge herself, for some reason) was something that was needed to steer the franchise in a new direction. From the moment she enters this timeline to the climax, it is her film and she gets to do the heavy lifting in a way that no other Terminator was able to do in the last three films, not even Arnold in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. The twist in the story comes a little late but after many action sequences, which remain the star attraction in the franchise.
The Bad – Similar Plot, Similar Villain, Different Audience
Getting back Linda and Arnold was a huge achievement but they aren’t working side by side as one would imagine. This sixth Terminator flick (fifth featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger) tries to erase the events of its predecessors but with a twist that seems hurried than thought-out. The Rev-9 Terminator looks cool but he has more or less the same powers as Robert Patrick’s T-1000 whom he tries to ape throughout the film. Why the makers chose to shift the venue to Mexico remains a million-dollar-question, especially when Mexico is a) not a superpower, b) not a superpower to be and c) not a country that will come to humanity’s aid if the need arises. The Terminator from the future is also a Mexican actor and so is the hunted individual, and both of them can’t act, not that there were points for that. I may not know the future but I do realize that had the story stayed in the United States it would have made more sense.
Then there are the many action sequences that were poorly recreated from the first two Terminator flicks with a change in venue; there is the clash of the two Terminators inside a building, then they take the fight outside and finally on the road where one of them is assumed to be terminated, only to return stronger. Then there is a Terminator who can mold into anyone, a helicopter fight sequence, a suspenseful sequence at a heavily guarded place and a climax that could have been tackled better, and you have another Terminator flick that bites the dust. In the era of Fast and Furious flicks, a no Terminator flick would have done the franchise a lot good than one where you connect with the recurring characters more than the leading ones.
The Verdict 2.5/5
Terminator: Dark Fate could have revived the once-mighty franchise but dealing with too many things caused it to falter. It might unite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton but with age not on their side, they come out as useless, and clueless. In order to establish their return, the story suffers otherwise it would have come out as a sequel with new faces, dealing in new challenges in the Terminator universe. The story of an unborn hero who will save the world would have seemed ideal for the 80s and the 90s but with 2020 nearing, it seems too far-fetched and mind-boggling. The computer-generated action, too much CGI and been-there-done-that plot didn’t do the film any favors. Neither did the director’s decision to not let Arnold sport his famous pair of sunglasses; that Arnold is the hero of the franchise is something they should have understood when they were writing the script. They banked on the returning Linda Hamilton and the two women she traveled with, and while it makes feminists happy, it doesn’t sit well with Arnold’s fans who even accepted him as Pops in Terminator Genisys because he did most of the termination. Without Arnold doing the heavy lifting, it’s not a Terminator movie!