Terminator: Dark Fate review
In the future, John Conner leads the resistance in the war against machines and Skynet….wait a minute, this is not the story your getting. And yet, we've got another Terminator movie out. Terminator has to be a story that filmmakers keep trying to revive despite never being able to reach the marks of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. A lot of it has to do with James Cameron having made the first two movies and declined to get involved in the various sequels and TV series (for those that remember Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles). It's clear he's never envisioned it as something to make into a franchise.
But I also don't blame the studios for trying to make it into a franchise. After all, with the success of other movie universes like Marvel, Star Wars, The Fast and the Furious and even The Conjuring, it's possible that a great movie could evolve into something bigger. But what keeps setting this back is that there's been a large time gap since the second movie. With James Cameron back executive producing, there is hope that his storytelling can bring something new into the series, right? Let's see what Terminator: Dark Fate has to offer.
Sometime after the events of T2, an unknown future awaits after John Conner (played by Edward Furlong) is killed by a previously unknown T-800. We also cut to Mexico where a young woman Dani (played by Natalia Reyes) and her brother dream of a better life. At the factory where they work, a new kind of terminator sent from the future, a Rev-9 (played by Gabriel Luna), that attacks and targets the woman. She's saved by a solider also sent from the future, Grace (played by Mackenzie Davis), whose been enhanced with machine-like capabilities despite being human.
They escape the factory and the Rev-9 chases, showing off his power of being able to transform into two terminators. Just as their cornered, Sarah Conner (played by Linda Hamilton) stops him and help the group escape. Sarah learns from Grace that in the new timeline, Skynet may have not started the new war, but another machine called Legion does. Given how terminators are still being sent back, they assume Dani has something to do with that. The race is on to get across the boarder, meet up with an ageing terminator T-900 (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger), and fight for the new future created.
I'll say this right off the back; Terminator Dark Fate is better then Terminator Genisys, but not by a lot. On it's own, its an entertaining action movie that should probably do fine with people. As a sequel to The Terminator, it's a mess that only made more problems. I'll get the positives out of the way; the acting is good all around. The newcomers like Mackenzie Davis and Gabriel Luna are good along side Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton (it's nice to see her back after a while). And the action…for the first forty-five minutes is fun with the factory fight and the first car chase.
So where does it go wrong? It's story. It's clear from the beginning that now their taking John Conner out of the equation, it wants to do something different. The problem is that what it replace with, not only does it add nothing (if Legion just starts that same war that Skynet started, then why change it at all?) but it creates more questions; If Skynet is no longer a thing, why do similar Terminators still exist? If more terminators were sent back, why was this never addressed in T2? If they knew who created Skynet in T2 and stopped it, why not stop Legion as well? Are there other leaders of the resistance? Why don't they send more protectors? Why don't they send back more terminators? You see why this series is starting to make less sense?
My other issue with Dark Fate is that despite being a direct sequel to T2, the stakes of the story seem very low considering that since John Conner's death meant nothing. If this young woman is killed, couldn’t another leader rise up? Plus even with questions out of the way, the premise of stopping the terminator seems like a step back. It may be a simpler storyline, but it's also a rehash.
I'll give this two and a half T-800s out of five. I'm only so harsh on this as T2 is not only James Cameron's best movie, but it's considered one of the greatest action movies of all time. So if your going to follow up and try again to revive the series, there had better be something of sequel strength. On it's own, it's only a passable action movie, but Dark Fate may be a true title as the fate of Terminator is not looking bright.