'Terminator: Dark Fate' Is a Satisfying Piece of Revisionist History Directed by Tim Miller
Starring Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta
Published Oct 30, 2019How many Terminator movies have there been? I dare you to answer that question without checking. For all anyone cares, there have only been two — which is why Terminator: Dark Fate ignores most of the sequels, and instead acts as a direct followup to Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Just to make sure it hits home, the film's tagline is "Welcome to the day after judgement day."
The film is set in the present day — a timeline in which the AI apocalypse has been avoided, but a young John Connor has been killed as a preteen. His mom Sarah (Linda Hamilton) is now an embittered Terminator hunter, who springs into action when a technologically advanced Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) warps to Mexico City with the intention of killing Dani (Natalia Reyes), a young woman of critical importance in a future war against technology. Meanwhile, a mechanically enhanced superhuman named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) warps in as Dani's protector.
It's a perfectly serviceable plot, albeit with one slightly convoluted time travel plot hole. But who really cares, since it's all in service of some fantastic action sequences and a charismatic cast with compelling chemistry. Davis has previously played geeky, understated roles in The Martian and Black Mirror, but here she transforms into a badass action star — a worthy successor to Hamilton, who is also wonderfully rough and rugged. And even though Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 character doesn't appear until the second half, he draws scene-stealing laughs with his hilarious deadpan delivery. His boring drapery business is hysterical.
Dark Fate doesn't offer surprises, but it recaptures the magic of T2 with its white-knuckle action sequences. Basically the whole film is a game of cat and mouse with the Rev-9, and the jaw-dropping freeway chase scene in particular is strongly reminiscent of Judgement Day.
Similar to 2015's Jurassic World, this is a satisfying piece of revisionist history that redeems a once-great franchise after its dismal sequels. After this redemptive film, Terminator execs are probably thinking: I'll be back.