Terminator Dark Fate (2019) Film Review
Published on November 19, 2019
November 1, 2019
Terminator Dark Fate
In Mexico City, a newly modified liquid Terminator (Rev-9) arrives from the future to kill a young factory worker named Dani Ramos. A super soldier is also sent back by Ramos to protect herself from the seemingly indestructible robotic assassin. But the two women soon find some much-needed help from a pair of unexpected allies − the seasoned gun-toting badass Sarah Connor and the deteriorating T-800, Craig, who happens to run a carpet fitting company in his spare time.
Let me get straight down to it. “Terminator: Dark Fate” is no “The Terminator” or “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”, both of which fundamentally have a heart and value what a feminist status movie should be. The original film, co-written and directed by James Cameron, saw Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), a waitress and future mother of the anti-machine-resistance messiah, in need of protection against an automated hit man (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from the future sent back to present-day Los Angeles to eliminate her, preventing the birth of her unborn child, who one day will go on to lead the war against man’s AI creation. After a gruelling chase sequence where the lumbering slab of dumb, destructive cyborg meat leaves Sarah’s protector, a jittery guerrilla fighter (Michael Biehn), also from the future, dead, Sarah is then forced to go head-to-metal with the cyborg endoskeleton in a fight to the death, where only the strongest will survive.
Ten years on we meet an all-new Sarah, who has been in training to become her son’s protector while confined behind the electric gates of a mental institution, a role reversal on the 1984 original. Unlike Reese, Sarah is lean, mean and ready to do whatever it takes to defend her now 10-year-old son, John Connor (Edward Furlong). Nevertheless, no amount of chin-ups will get her out of her Fort Knox situation. Not to worry though, the leader of the resistance comes to her rescue with a reprogrammed T-800, and quickly the all-round badass Sarah Connor, her whizz-kid son and leather pant-wearing Uncle Bob kill the latest hitborg T-1000 (Robert Patrick) and stop Skynet from turning the world into a dystopian junkyard, securing John’s future while saving 3 billion lives in the process.
Without a doubt “Terminator 2” is the quintessential action movie. While not as distinguished as its predecessor, which combined relentless stalk-kill tension and road trip high jinks, the sequel’s one long chase and fight story arc, matched by simplistic dialogue, is efficient, delivering big thrills and bigger bangs for its audience’s titillation. “Dark Fate”, the sixth instalment, however, sh#ts on the theology maintained by the first three movies, developing a whole new story arc with its future leader Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) that is as wafer thin as a Crawford’s pink biscuit.
“Dark Fate” resets time AGAIN, like an episode of Doctor Who, pitting our new saviour, Dani Ramos and her less-efficient half-human half-cyborg protector (Mackenzie Davis) against an upgraded Terminator nemesis (Gabriel Luna), who’s slicker than any oil slick and faster than a Formula 1 driver. During the first demolition derby, where the new nemesis takes out vehicles like a pinball machine scoring points, a truck pulls to a screeching side halt, boots emerge and hit the deck, and there she is, sunglasses and all, gunning down the sprinting shape-shifter, Rev-9 and employing a rocket launcher to finish the job. Hamilton’s entrance was deserving, and it promptly commanded spontaneous, uncontrollable cheering in my multiplex. Her guns-ablaze return started the immediate reverse of the series’ downward trajectory. Nevertheless, the film’s opening narrative had already changed her character’s foundations and systematically dismantled her future forever.
“Gabriel Luna and Linda Hamilton are the saviours of “Dark Fate”, while Schwarzenegger gets right back to business of reminding us exactly why we love his T-800. Who knows whether The Terminator will be back? The box office has that fate in its hands for now. But it’s back now, and what a glorious difference it has made having Hamilton back in her role as Sarah Connor!”
No longer is Sarah the mother of man’s saviour, no longer is it her duty to protect and teach her son his defining responsibilities to lead mankind to pastures greener; instead she is nothing more than a vengeful alcoholic who stores her cell phone in a bag of potato chips. Its original premise was as old as time, that the birth of a child can pull a whole community together and elevate it for all time, a sentiment that separates it from modern day society that no longer becomes involved in the bonding or growth of a newborn. Values have changed and Hollywood showcases it here to the best of its five writers’ ability, telling the audience that procreation is no longer valued as it once was and celebrating society’s acknowledgement (today) that childbearing has become subordinate and that self-importance and independence are all we really need to succeed and get by in life.
“Dark Fate” nevertheless isn’t the time-lapsing rotting fruit everyone professes it to be. Linda Hamilton is as kickass and iconic as she ever was, defying an industry built by ageism; she’s still got it. Gabriel Luna steals the show with his pulsating sleekness, blending the twinkle-in-the-eye appeal of James Bond (Sean Connery) with the T-1000’s coldness and menace. The story calls for him to pursue his target on foot, by drones, in helicopters and cars, eventually blowing his load 30,000 feet above ground in a military cargo plane before plummeting back to earth and ending up at the bottom of a reservoir, then inevitably returning to the nostalgic industrial setting filled with metal-crushing machinery, because rehashing old ground brings familiarity... if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Tim Miller (“DeadPool”) is a competent director. He certainly has a knack for staging action, but Cameron’s original go-for-broke B movie and its big budget sequel still reign supreme. Davis does her best to elevate her junkie half-human super soldier but her repeated jibes at Hamilton’s legendary character grate on the nerves like chalk on a blackboard, and the sheer number of SnapBacks soon numb you to their intended impact. Reyes is pleasant enough but lacks the acting credentials and character growth of Edward Furlong. I can think of a million other actresses that would have been more suited for the role; Eiza González Reyna is just one example. Schwarzenegger does what Schwarzenegger does best, and it’s business as usual.
“Terminator: Dark Fate” is a movie that without a doubt plays to all of Hollywood’s liberal gender-reverse bullsh#t without falling into “Ghostbusters 2016” territory and thanks to the low bar Olympian limbo dance fans of the franchise have had with “Dark Fate” spoilers it has actually become a winner in the face of adversity and the better sequel since T2. Nevertheless, it has pi#*ed on hospitality and will no doubt leave fans split Rev-9 style front, back and centre.