By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Terminator: Dark Fate is probably the first terminator film since Terminator 2 to (sort of) do the originals justice. Compared to James Cameron’s iconic films, it’s not that great, but compared to all the other sequels and reboots, including 2015’s disastrous Terminator: Genisys, it’s a pretty decent blockbuster and boasts the return of one of the franchise’s most lovable characters…
Augmented super soldier Grace (Mackenzie Davis) is sent from the future to protect young Mexican woman Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) when she becomes victim to a new hybrid terminator (Gabriel Luna). As Dani begins to discover who she will become in the future war with the machines, they are joined by original terminator survivor and wanted criminal Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) – woohoo!
From Tim Miller, the director of Deadpool, Dark Fate is an alright sequel to Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Like the recent Halloween, studios decided to ditch the mediocre sequels and pick up after the events of the classic 1991 Cameron sequel. OK, none of them were particularly good but what a way to slap those past directors in the face? Feels like they’re breaking the rules a bit here, as well as making things even more confusing.
Anyway, Dark Fate picks up almost exactly where T2 left off with some interesting back story on Sarah and her son John (Edward Furlong), which I actually bought. From there we go to present day where Ramos is being hunted down in Mexico City and is joined by the fantastic Mackenzie Davis who I’ve always been a fan of (think Blade Runner 2049 and Black Mirror’s remarkable San Junipero episode). Davis gives killing machine Grace her absolute all and does resemble T2 Hamilton a bit, especially in the biceps department. She also brings a more human element to a character that would otherwise just be another terminator.
Then comes Hamilton who shakes up the dynamic completely with her sweary, bitter and tough-as-nails Connor that is more or less the one we know and love, but also has a chip on her shoulder from years of paranoia and isolation (she even had her own episode on America’s Most Wanted).
Although Reyes doesn’t quite manage to keep her performance on the same level as the other two, the group still makes an interesting trio and keeps you fairly engaged throughout their road trip across Mexico and Texas. The lore and occasional flashbacks (or flash forwards in this case) help to make it feel a little more authentic.
The new terminator, played well by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actor Gabriel Luna, is surprisingly creepy and a hell of a lot more memorable than the previous few. He’s undeniably similar to Robert Patrick’s cold but also occasionally humourous T-1000 in T2, and the fact that he’s able to split his metal exoskeleton with the liquid one makes him twice the killing machine, and also makes for some spectacular action sequences (maybe a little overboard with that plane scene though).
And then, Arnold Schwarzenegger turns up and kind of ruins the atmosphere with a back story that is absolutely RIDICULOUS. I mean, come on the guy grew a bit of a conscience in T2 but this is too much. I’m not going to lie, it’s very funny at times simply because of how much of a leathery family man the guy has become, but it reminded me of the sequels which always did the same thing, and always did it half-assed. I’m waiting for the internet to explode with plot holes and Reddit abuse over that. Any day now…
But Hamilton’s Sarah Connor is back and that means that Hollywood has FINALLY figured out that she is just as an important part of this series as Schwarzenegger is. For me, this is her film, and maybe Davis’ film too. And you should go and see it for them alone.
Terminator: Dark Fate is now showing in Czech cinemas.