Current Issue #488

Film Review: Terminator: Dark Fate

Confusingly the sixth Terminator movie and the third at the same time, this rejig of the whole series is darker and more violent than any of the other entries.

Produced by and pushed into being by Terminator main-man James Cameron, it pretends that the last three movies (Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, Terminator Salvation and Terminator Genisys) and TV’s short-lived Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles never actually happened, and instead serves as a direct sequel to the second part, 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, something that might irk older-school purists.

However, such sticks-in-the-mud are well compensated for by the participation of Linda Hamilton (the one and only Sarah Connor herself) and original Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, although chances are Cameron and Hamilton had limited contact given that their break-up 20 years ago was amongst the costliest ever in Hollywood.

We open with original, staticky footage from the first films, briefly cut to 1998, and then proceed to what seems to be 2022 in Mexico City where ‘enhanced’ human Grace (Mackenzie Davis) does the naked-time-travelling thing in order to protect Dani Ramos (Colombian actress Natalia Reyes from Birds Of Passage). Grace is therefore a proxy for Michael Biehn’s Kyle Reese in Part 1 and Dani becomes a Sarah Connor stand-in, but then we also get Sarah herself, who turns up to fire a lot of guns and even (apparently) a rocket launcher.

Rumour has it that Linda thoroughly enjoyed returning to the series, and had such a fabulous time that director Tim Miller (of Deadpool) wound up having to instruct her not to smile when she was blasting and blazing.

Naturally Dani is being pursued by another seemingly unstoppable Terminator, a Rev-9 (which sounds more like a motorbike or aftershave) played by Gabriel Luna, which can do the molten-metal chameleon thing like Robert Patrick’s T-1000 in Judgment Day but also proves expert in splitting in two and coldly sneering. Grace, Dani and Sarah are forced to escape to Texas, which results in a lengthy, pro-Mexican sequence where they disastrously sneak across the border without mentioning the word ‘Trump’ and later wind up at the rural home of you-know-who. And yes, his appearance is supposed to be a surprise, even though he’s in the trailer and all over the internet talking about the damn thing.

Cameron’s participation is notable, especially in the decision to stage as many stunts and action setpieces as possible FX-free and with real vehicles, real people and real budget-blowing destruction, while the inevitable feminisation of the material has already upset the more incel-ish fans out there, who seem not to understand that the Terminator movies have always been female and second only to the Alien pics in their concentration on heroines, motherhood and, it must be said, a woman’s right to choose.

And, finally, there will surely be a sequel to this, and it will be both Part 4 and yet also, trickily, the seventh Terminator movie too. Yes, you could say that, ahem, once again they’ll all… be back.

Terminator: Dark Fate (MA) is in cinemas now

Reviewer Rating

DM Bradley

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