Terminator Dark Fate Movie Review: The Terminator franchise deserves a break, doesn't it? The last good movie came back in the early '90s and that was just the second film in the series. Terminator 2: Judgement Day was not only the best Terminator film, bettering the first film that was also thrilling. But it was also considered one of the best in the action and sci-fi genres. Interestingly, both the better Terminator movies had Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor) in the cast, and the subsequent movies that came afterwards which didn't have her, lacked in quality, even with the presence of mainstay, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The last film, Terminator: Genisys, is by far, the worst in the series. Terminator: Dark Fate's Los Angeles Premiere Called Off Due to Southern California Wildfires.
So with Linda Hamilton returning for the sixth film, Terminator: Dark Fate, things are bound to improve, right? Especially when James Cameron, the director of the first two movies, is also creatively involved? It sure does, when you compare Dark Fate to every Terminator film that came after Judgement Day. And that gives me a little hope about the future of the franchise, if there is one. Like with Genisys, Terminator: Dark Fate, directed by Tim Miller, is also the direct sequel to Judgement Day, made with the intention to reboot the franchise. It serves that purpose better than the predecessor, I can say that.
But Dark Fate comes with its share of glitches that stops it from becoming the one great Terminator sequel that we yearned for years.
At the end of Judgement Day, Sarah Connor and her son John (Edward Furlong) had stopped their apocalyptic future and prevented Skynet from taking over humanity. What they didn't know then was that they have only pushed the inevitable a little ahead - a new future where once again robots have destroyed the Earth and the surviving humans are giving them a fight.
But before that future happens, we reached the present decade where a Terminator, a Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna), is sent to kill a Mexican girl Dani (Natalia Reyes). This Rev-9 is a mean killing machine that can fluidly adapt into any living person by mere physical contact, like its predecessors, but can also split its exoskeleton to be two Terminators.
But Dani is a lucky girl, as in, an augmented soldier from the future, Grace (Mackenzie Davis), is sent to protect her. Not just her, even Sarah Connor is out there, older but more badass than before, who has made it her life's mission to kill the Terminators whenever they pop up. Both Grace and Sara form a reluctant pair to protect Dani from the new Terminator, as the humans figure out why he is out to kill her.
So why is Terminator: Dark Fate better than most of the sequels (other than Judgement Day)? For one, we really care for the characters here. I know that the movie's agenda of going beyond seeing John Connor as a human saviour has been met with trepidation by the fans. But let's be honest here, what exactly has John Connor really done? He was an irritating wimp in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. He was a dour leader of Resistance in Terminator: Salvation. And when Genisys arrived, they had strangely turned him into an antagonist and a Terminator.
Watch The Trailer of Terminator: Dark Fate:
So instead of getting insulted in every movie, isn't it better for the franchise to find a new saviour? So let's stop cribbing about someone who hasn't really lived up to his legacy and talk how Grace and Dani aren't bad replacements. The bonding between these two is a better-written camaraderie that we haven't seen in a Terminator movie, since, well, Judgement Day. Sure, there are rough edges but the essence of how sometimes even the protector needs to be protected is what makes the Grace-Dani dynamics so interesting. The revelation that Grace makes about Dani in the third act adds more nuances to their equation, and it gives Dark Fate a heartwarming appeal. Mackenzie Davis is fantastic as Grace, and Natalia Reyes gives a solid performance that goes beyond being a snivelling puny human that needs rescuing.
But Terminator: Dark Fate belongs to one and only scene-stealing Linda Hamilton. We often forget that the Terminator saga, when it began, was not just about futuristic killing machines. It was also about Sarah Connor (more than John, actually). In Dark Fate, we see her as this badass vengeful lady, but also a grieving woman who couldn't stop what was coming for her. The opening act that connects her world to the new one is a fine scene, with better use of de-ageing CGI that I had seen in Gemini Man. Linda Hamilton absolutely sells both the aspects of her character with an electrifying gusto. Linda Hamilton Returns to Silver Screen with 'Terminator: Dark Fate'.
Another big improvement is the action scenes. The CGI is not always consistent; at some places, you can really see some bad effects. But Tim Miller, who earlier made Deadpool, makes up for that with his execution of the fight sequences. Be it the standoff on the bridge or jailbreak at the US-Mexican border, the sequences are deftly handled.
That said, the final fight sequence is somewhat of a letdown with too much infusion of CGI and darkness. Surprisingly, for a movie that is rated R (in the USA), the gore is low in the film. Or did the Indian Censors played their hand here?
So what makes Dark Fate not so great? For one, the storyline is a pretty much a rehash of the first film, without any of the romantic plotting. Also, Dark Fate often feels repetitive in the middle with scenes of Rev-9 attacking Grace, Dani and Sarah and ending with the same results. No offense to Gabriel Luna who is good in his role, but the repetition robs the nearly indestructible Rev-9 an opportunity of being a really memorable antagonist a la Robert Patrick in Judgement Day. Okay, stop rolling your eyes now at my frequent comparisons to that movie. How can I help it when the highest benchmark for the franchise was set way back in 1991?
Then there is Mr Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, this time taking a more supporting role. His entrance in the film will leave the OG Terminator fans cheered up and he has some pretty fun lines. But his arc in the film feels more like an afterthought, rather than an essential plotline. Sure, Arnie and Linda's scenes will make you nostalgic, even with their changed dynamics, but where that is headed to is predictable from the word 'go'. And in the third, he is more or less, used as an ex-Machina rather, whenever the protagonists are in a tight corner.
- The Three Main Leads
- The Bonding Developed Between Them
- The Opening Act
- The Action Scenes, Well, Most of Them
- The Rhashed Plotline
- Repetitive Scenes
- Arnold's Casting Feeling Superfluous
- A Divisive Third Act
Terminator: Dark Fate doesn't go for the high that it aims to do, let down by its inconsistent plotting, rehashed premise and a third act that proves divisive. But it isn't also the travesty that we all feared it would be. In fact, as some of the reviews claim, I would agree that it is the third-best Terminator film. Which, seeing how its predecessors turned out to be, is an achievement in itself.