Terminator: Dark Fate is the sixth movie in a franchise which has now been around for a staggering 35 years. The first of the sequels, Judgement Day back in 1991, is widely regarded by many as one of the greatest movie sequels of all time and for me it still holds up as an incredible piece of movie entertainment to this day. Since then, the subsequent sequels have failed to live up to that high standard in my opinion and, despite some interesting ideas and execution, have been largely forgettable. For one thing, I don’t even remember if I’ve actually even seen 2015 movie Genisys! Now, with James Cameron back onboard for writing/producing duties and directed by Deadpool director Tim Miller, Dark Fate has been pitched as the natural successor to Judgement Day that we never got. The trailer certainly gave off that impression and, for the first time in years, I was actually excited about seeing a Terminator movie again.
Dark Fate gets its shock twist out of the way right off the bat, before launching into approximately 20 minutes of non-stop, heart pounding action as we’re introduced to both the new Terminator and the protector who has been sent from the future in order to try and stop him. Straight away, Dark Fate feels like the kind of Terminator movie we know and love, playing more like an homage at times in similar ways to how Star Wars: The Force Awakens felt like A New Hope. Wow, it certainly is a promising start!
Our protector for this movie is Grace (Mackenzie Davis), a human soldier who has received some cybernetic enhancements to her body. She has been sent back from an alternate future to the one that was described in Judgement Day – that future is now dead, thanks to the efforts of Sarah Connor, her son John and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800. However, humans clearly can’t stop meddling with AI technology and the result, some 40 years from now, is the birth of ‘Legion’. Our world has subsequently been destroyed, humans are being hunted and killed, but the remaining survivors are fighting back hard.
Those survivors have sent Grace back to protect a young, unsuspecting Mexican woman named Dani (Natalia Reyes), a factory worker whose job is becoming redundant thanks to the introduction of robot automation(!). Her importance to the future of humanity isn’t immediately made clear, but the fact that war is currently raging around her while she is both hunted and protected, is good enough reason for now. The Terminator hunter Dani is being chased by is a Rev 9 (played by Gabriel Luna), similar to the T1000 of Judgement Day in that it has a liquid skin, able to replicate any human it comes into contact with or transform its body into various sharp weapons. But also, with the added bonus of being able to separate that liquid skin from its metal endoskeleton, doubling down on the threat level and providing two very different Terminators to fight off at the same time.
But when all seems lost, a guardian angel in the form of Sarah Connors arrives on the scene, packing guns, rocket launchers and grenades and generally being a real badass. Turns out Sarah has spent the last twenty years or so hunting down any cyborgs that decide to venture into our time from the future and she joins forces with Grace in order to protect Dani at all costs. It’s great to have Linda Hamilton back as Sarah Connor, and she is once again a strong and effective presence in the movie. Grace and Dani prove to be just as tough as Sarah though, both mentally and physically, but it’s Mackenzie Davis that stands out for me as being particularly impressive. All 3 of them form a pretty formidable, badass trio as they go on the run to get as far away from the Terminator as possible.
It’s no secret if you’ve seen the trailers that Arnie is back, and his arrival later in the movie introduces yet more nostalgia and a good injection of humour. His presence and purpose is explained well, feeling believable, not like a cheap cash-in, and it’s great to have Arnie and Linda Hamilton back together as a team, even if it feels at times like they’re handing over the baton to a fresh bunch of heroes.
The action builds to an impressive finale, continuing the homage to the original movies, but still managing to feel fresh and original, and for me Dark Fate definitely feels a worthy successor to Judgement Day. There’s certainly a possibility of further sequels following this and while I had an absolute blast with this movie, part of me hopes that they’ll leave well alone now and just end the series on a real high.
My watch-list of movies and TV shows continues to grow, while my spare time continues to shrink. Occasionally though, I’ll manage to tick one off the list, and then try to come up with some words about it that make me sound as though I know what I’m talking about. “Once he has discovered something, he wants to be off onto the next thing, rather than spending time and elaborating” – snippet from my primary school report, confirming that I am, and always have been, easily distracted.