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Well… He’s Back! | TERMINATOR: DARK FATE – Review

L to R – Natalia Reyes, Mackenzie Davis and Linda Hamilton dominate in TERMINATOR: DARK FATE | © Paramount Pictures 2019

In 1984, filmmaker James Cameron had zero idea he’d be unleashing a global phenomenon with THE TERMINATOR, an original sci-fi, action flick about a cyborg from an apocalyptic future who travels to the present to ensure the extermination of mankind. Dark, gritty, bold, intensely written and entertaining, the film moved at a blistering pace and featured an action heroine.

The story followed a young waitress, Sarah Connor, who was being hunted by a T-800 model Terminator sent from the future on a deadly mission to kill her and her unborn son, the future leader of the human resistance. The relentless T-800 was sent by Skynet, a future A.I. system created by Cyberdyne that was set to destroy humans.

With overwhelmingly positive word-of-mouth and great reviews, THE TERMINATOR launched lead actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton to Hollywood stardom and established Cameron as the industry’s go-to director for blockbuster entertainment. While 4 more TERMINATOR-themed flicks and a TV series were produced, T2 marked the end of Cameron and Hamilton’s involvement.

TERMINTOR: DARK FATE reunites Cameron with original franchise stars Hamilton and Schwarzenegger for the first time in 28 years in a thrilling new action-adventure that picks up where T2: JUDGEMENT DAY left off. More than two decades have passed since Sarah Connor prevented Judgment Day, changed the future, and re-wrote the fate of humans. Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) is living a simple life in Mexico City with her brother (Diego Boneta) and father when a highly advanced and deadly new Terminator – a Rev9 (Gabriel Luna) – travels back through time to hunt and kill. Dani’s survival depends on her joining forces with two warriors: Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an enhanced super-soldier from the future, and a battle-hardened Sarah Connor (Hamilton). As the Rev9 ruthlessly destroys everything and everyone in its path on the hunt for Dani, the three are led to a T-800 (Schwarzenegger) from Sarah’s past who may be their last hope.

In its own way, DARK FATE is an adrenaline rush of fun and a solid addition to the franchise. It’s an all-out resistance battle led by 3 badass women. Considering its upgrade among Terminator mythos, the movie presents a decent display among its new cast members and reignites that darkened, fine-line joy that pits human vs. machine. The action sequences are fun, sound mixing is fierce and upgraded, and lastly… Schwarzenegger and Hamilton are still a powerful presence within the storyline. They’re the face of the operation – and for all I’ve just mentioned, I truly appreciate Miller’s touch.

Now, as diehards of the franchise embark upon DARK FATE, I can see raised eyebrows, because for a piece that’s supposed to follow T2 – since they seem to pretend the 3 that followed don’t exist – DARK FATE isn’t on the same scale. I’ll tell you why… What makes T2 an amazing film aside from its brilliant plot, amazing effects, and great screen writing is the emotional connection between the Terminator and John Connor. That connection is the heartbeat of T2’s film and makes viewer believe that despite the hopeless future humanity is facing, if this Terminator can protect John then maybe mankind has a chance. The Terminator is a father figure to John, and this is what connects the audience with the film so much. The ending cannot be forgotten. The fact that we forget the Terminator isn’t human, because of how well the film builds the bond. This is what makes T2 so great, not the epic action sequences – which help, but it’s more for peripheral spectacle.

DARK FATE touches up on T2 and honors its hardened narrative. However, it fails on emotional engagement. It can be appreciated for its upgrade among story and parallels between Dani Ramos and Sarah Connor, but it’s a stretch to link both. They’re their own monster. Tim Miller has left a footprint among this franchise while blessed by T-800’s father (Cameron), so, time will tell how this piece will rank among a total of what’s 6 movies in the series, and can totally see more as long as Schwarzenegger’s heart is beating. As a whole, DARK FATE isn’t a bad movie. It’s a joyride in a class all on its own.


Grade: B / Genre: Sci-Fi, Action-Adventure / Rated: R / Run Time: 2:08

Starring: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta

Directed by Tim Miller

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© Paramount Pictures 2019