Movie Review: ‘Terminator – Dark Fate’

Director: Tim Miller

Cast: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie David, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna

Plot: It’s a routine day for Dani Ramos…right up until an unstoppable robot from the future turns up to kill her, followed by a future soldier sent to protect her.

Review: Here’s the thing about the Terminator franchise…it’s not as complicated as producers seem to think it is. The science fiction future dystopian and the increasingly silly time-travel plot device are just the dressing. The meat of the original movie is a vulnerable target being pursued by an unstoppable killing machine, with a dedicated guardian trying to keep them at bay. We don’t need to see Judgement Day play out, nor do we need it to become a future war film. We need the victim, the hunter and the guardian.

Thankfully they seem to have remembered this, and we can scrub every movie between Judgement Day and Dark Fate from our memories. Miller and James Cameron certainly have, as the prologue for this new entry picks up not long after the events of the second film.

Dani (Reyes) works with her brother in a factory and cares for her father, but her life comes crashes down around her when a mysterious pair of figures start fighting over her. The first is a ‘Rev-9’ (Luna), a deadly new model of Terminator combining a liquid metal body over the top of an endoskeleton, featuring the ability to split into two seperate forms. This killing machine is followed closely by Dani’s new protector, Grace (Davis), a human soldier augmented with cybernetic technology. While on the run they team up with Sarah Connor (Hamilton), who has dedicated her life to hunting Terminator’s as they arrive in the past and ‘Carl’ Schwarzenegger), a T-800 without a mission who has integrated into the human world.

The plot is simple. The Rev-9 is trying to kill Dani while Grace, Sarah and Carl desperate try to stop it. There’s some clever ideas floated in this film, such as the evolution of artificial intelligence and hiding in the heavily monitored modern world, but none of them are explored in any depth. Instead we alternate between action set-pieces and exposition scenes with token efforts towards character development. Dani herself gets all her character development done in the first act, then stands in the background while the higher paid actors quip at each other.

What prevents Dark Fate from being held in the same regard as the original two classics is how bloated and sloppy it feels. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character doesn’t serve any purpose beyond having Arnold Schwarzenegger playing a T-800 again. The CGI heavy action sequences begin blurring together towards the end, with an extended plane sequence feeling as though it could be skipped over entirely for all it adds to the story. There’s at least seven people credited with the story and the script and it feels as though they all got to keep their favourite part intact regardless of what it contributed to the story.

If this is a final movie in the series and can be seen as a capstone to a trilogy, that’s just fine. Or you can skip it and stick with the original two. It’s a fun watch with plenty of fan service.

Rating: SEVEN out of TEN