Rating: 1/4 Stars
Much as people balk and groan at the thought of seeing sequels or new installments to decade-old franchises, I love seeing film series I grew up and adored coming back after so many years and continuing a story with a new take. However, many people seem to agree (myself included) that James Cameron’s epic sci-fi series “The Terminator” should have stopped pumping out future films a long, LONG time ago. Many believe “T2: Judgement Day” is the last true and respected Terminator sequel made and everything else sucked afterward (I strongly disagree on “T3: Rise of the Machines” however). Now Cameron is back to produce this latest (and hopefully last) ditch effort to revitalize the franchise with “Terminator: Dark Fate.”
20 years after Judgement delayed was stopped, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) has lost her way and struggles to find a new path now that the world is finally free from the technological terror of Skynet…or is it? In Mexico City, a young girl named Dani (Natalia Reyes) is attacked by a twin pair of deadly terminator machines called Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) who seeks to kill her for something she will do in the future to aid humanity. A mysterious cyborg woman named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) also comes from the future to protect Dani. Now along with a still-spry Sarah Connor and an old T-800 unit (Arnold Schwarzenegger), they must all work together to stop a new dark future from coming and save humanity once again from the threat of machines.
If there ever was a movie franchise that perfectly embodied the “beating the dead horse” metaphor, it’s Terminator. After the last disastrous effort to restart the franchise with a new trilogy of films with “Terminator Genisys”, people were hopeful Cameron’s involvement along with classic stars Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger coming back would mean a return to the film’s quality roots which have been dead and dormant since “T2.” Turns out they were wrong, they were VERY wrong! Ignoring the events of every Terminator movie except the first two, “Dark Fate” is a lazy, weakly cobbled together hot mess that copies tropes, ideas, and clichés from every single previous Terminator movie (including the bad ones).
“Dark Fate” is essentially a poor man’s clean slate that tries to start a new storyline to keep expanding the lore by ripping off every movie that came before it; sacrificing all originality and creativity. The first 5 minutes of the movie is the most shocking and infuriating part of the entire film and if you’re anything like me, it’ll be impossible to really get into the rest of the movie after seeing it. This film doesn’t feel like a worthy successor to any of the previous Terminator movies; it feels more insulting than anything else. For example, Skynet is written out and a new software-based menace called Legion emerges as the new big bad, with Dani as the ‘new’ John Connor and Grace as the ‘new’ T-800 protector role.
The only things that work here are a few action sequences and (unsurprisingly), Hamilton and Arnold back as Sarah Connor and the T-800 unit. Their attitude, awkward chemistry and bad ass images really bring back that nostalgic thrill back to the good old days of quality Terminator movies. They slipped back into their roles seamlessly and have every bit of sharp wit, gravitas and intensity they’ve become immortalized for. Sadly, everyone else falls pitifully short. Dani is a sad substitute for John, having no personality, memorable lines or even much of an impressive future role to play in the new timeline. Mackenzie Davis’s Grace tries her best but suffers from weak writing and weak conceptualization (basically, she’s a knock off of Sam Worthington’s character from “Terminator Salvation”…and she needs insulin shots to survive).
Even the new Terminator robot, Rev-9, offers nothing new and just copies the same powers and abilities the T-000 had in “T2” and the powers of the TX from “T3.” Overall, “Dark Fate” has nothing going for it, even with Cameron, Hamilton, and Arnold all being attached to it. Everything this movie has to offer has been seen and done before and better in the previous Terminator films. The story and characters are insulting, weakly written and prove that the Terminator franchise needs to stay dead and buried and not come back until someone in the absurdly far future knows how to salvage this mess.