Review: Terminator: Dark Fate

The only thing harder to kill than a Terminator is the Terminator franchise. The franchise is back with its sixth installment, Terminator: Dark Fate.

This sequel ignores everything after 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day. This plot may sound familiar: In 2020 a cybernetically-enhanced soldier named Grace (MacKenzie Davis) is sent back in time to protect Dani (Natalia Reyes) from a Rev-9 Terminator (Gabriel Luna). The Rev-9 has the powerful endoskeleton of the T-800 and the shape-shifting liquid capabilities of T-1000 – it’s a nightmare to fight and almost impossible to kill.

On the run from the Rev-9, Grace and Dani run into Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) who has spent the past few years hunting Terminators. Later, the group gets help from the T-800 aka Carl (Arnold Schwarzenegger). The trio of Terminator killers devises a plan to face off against the Rev-9 and protect Dani.

Where does this story fit in the Terminator timeline? Well, Sarah’s fight to keep her son alive stopped Skynet from happening and Judgment Day on that timeline, but humans can’t help themselves and time travel is timey-wimey. In the future, humanity is hunted by Legion – an artificial intelligence designed for cyber security. Of course, their scenario plays out exactly like Skynet’s original Judgment Day and the creation of Legion leads to global human extinction, nuclear holocaust, hunter killers, and time traveling Terminators.

Dark Fate is a remix of the first Terminator with elements of the T2. The plot feels like two hours of, “previously on Terminator…” more than a new story. As up-and-down as the sequels were (more down than up), they attempted something new and took chances with the story. There was always an attempt to expand on the Terminator lore. Dark Fate is a lazy retelling of two beloved sci-fi films that’s hoping for people to fall in love with the nostalgia of Terminator.

The Rev-9 is a really cool concept that gives the film some visually stunning scenes. The story doesn’t do too much with the character. He spends most of the film getting shot, blown up, and killing civilians. Rev-9 is always a step behind them, yet it never feels like Dani and the rest of the group are in any real danger.

The highlight of the film is Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger. They have some hilarious banters and some of the=e best one-liners – and that’s part of the problem. The film spends more time trying to be snarky and funny than telling an interesting Terminator story.

The opening chase sequence, when Rev-9 comes in contact with Dani, is the best sequence in the film and the action never reaches that height again. The scene at the detention center could’ve been like the police station scene in Terminator but it’s not very well executed.

Terminator: Dark Fate is fun at times but mostly predictable and forgettable. Instead of taking big swings that may have missed, the story plays it safe. Outside of a few minor changes, there isn’t anything new added to the story. Reyes and Luna are both good additions to the franchise are , but they’re muted by a script that doesn’t give them much to do. Hopefully this is the end of the Terminator franchise but something tells me they’ll be back.

Grade: C