Terminator: Dark Fate – The BRWC Review
In 1991 after the success of Aliens, the release of Terminator 2: Judgment Day once again proved that there can be such a thing as a successful sequel. No doubt due to having James Cameron at the helm. Since then, much like the titular character, The Terminator kept coming back over and over and the results were not a patch on the release of The Terminator and its blockbuster sequel.
Cut to 28 years later and finally James Cameron has decided to come back to the franchise to executive produce Tim Miller’s new take on The Terminator series. Terminator: Dark Fate proves that perhaps Cameron should never have let anybody else get their hands on his creation in the first place.
Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) works with her brother, Diego (Diego Boneta) living a simple life in Mexico City. However, little does she know but a new terminator – a rev 9 (Gabriel Luna) has been sent from the future to kill her because her very existence holds the key to the future of the human race.
However, the human resistance has also sent someone back to protect Dani, an augmented human named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) who will stop at nothing to ensure Dani’s safety. The trouble is, ever since Judgment Day was averted, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) has been fighting to keep the peace all on her own and her dislike of those who are less than human hasn’t softened over the years.
Terminator: Dark Fate picks up in the modern day and thankfully ignores all the previous sequels that came after Judgment Day. There are no more red leather clad blondes hunting down an adult John Connor, no post-apocalyptic stories of a hard and embittered Christian Bale… uh, I mean John Connor trying to save humanity.
Nor are there any plots revolving around a tablet computer being the thing that destroys all of mankind (I think that was the plot of Genysis anyway). Instead, Terminator: Dark Fate stays with the tone and the themes of the original and its sequel, giving its audience just what they wanted. However, it does have its flaws.
For those familiar with the franchise and a particular love for the first two films, Dark Fate will feel familiar to them as the story unfolds. Very familiar. So, as the beats of the story play out there may be very little surprises. The movie also seems to think that a particular twist in the plot is very important and is hammered out in great detail.
However, besides a certain subset of men on the internet, this twist will not surprise or outrage anybody. Although somebody among the people who made the film clearly thought that it might. A minor issue but one that I’m sure the audience would have figured out and accepted long before it’s addressed in the movie.
The success of Judgment Day was partly due to the movie flipping the script, turning The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) into a hero on a road to redemption. As the movie plays out, the audience warms to him as do Sarah and her son John (Edward Furlong) and it gave the film not only a thrill ride of explosive set pieces but also a beating heart under the cybernetic exoskeleton. Unfortunately, however much Dark Fate reminds its audience of the franchise’s better days, the emotional connection between the characters is nowhere near as strong.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie does indeed play out as a worthy third episode in the series, but the times where the script wants the characters to feel anything for each other come across as more mechanical than the T-800, thus missing out that important ingredient that made Judgment Day so special.
All in all, there have been far worse Terminator films done in the past twenty years and perhaps Dark Fate should have been the closing episode of a trilogy that ended before the 21st century began. The movie has large set pieces which will impress action fans and Sarah Connor probably has the best entrance of any character I’ve seen this year.
However, with nostalgia comes retrospect and Dark Fate undoubtedly shows that the franchise will never be as good as it was all those years ago.
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