Main cast: Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor), Natalia Reyes (Daniella Ramos), Mackenzie Davis (Grace), Gabriel Luna (Rev-9), Diego Boneta (Diego Ramos), and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Carl)
Director: Tim Miller
Now, Terminator: Dark Fate is said to be a sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which means all the sequels that followed that movie in the years past were rendered pointless. However, this movie also renders the previous two movies obsolete as well, hence some people who love those two movies may feel some degree of resentment towards this film… especially when the story of this movie doesn’t do anything other than to replicate those previous two films, only to in the process completely erasing the male characters out in favor of lip service feminism that Hollywood is so into these days.
Right off the bat, shortly after the events of the previous film, Sarah Connor can only watch in horror as another T-800 shows up when she and her son John are taking a breather in Bahamas, to kill John. At least Edward Furlong gets some rent money, I suppose? Following this, Sarah becomes the Terminator Slayer with a vengeance. Someone sends her a text message detailing the location of incoming Terminators over the next twelve years, and she waits at that spot with all her firearms ready to obliterate those things.
Meanwhile, we have our female version of Kyle Reese in the form of Grace, an augmented human soldier who is sent to the present day in 2020 to protect Daniella Ramos from a fluid shape-shifting Terminator, Rev-9. Sarah crashes the party, and now we have three kick-ass ladies with guns and all… on the run from the T-1000 wannabe. That’s so empowering, good job Hollywood. Sarah learns that she and John may have stopped Skynet from taking over, but hey, now we have Legion, the AI that took over the future. I’m not sure why we still have Terminators and all the other jargon remaining the same when it’s now Legion in charge, but perhaps that’s a sign that even the people behind this movie admit that Legion and Skynet are interchangeable and they don’t really give a crap.
If you have watched the other two movies, you will know right away that we have simply replicated the same characters – Kyle is now Grace, John is now Dani, and Sarah is the protective mama bear who isn’t afraid to shoot the rear end out of anyone who even looks at Dani funny. Arnold Schwarzenegger is here too as the T-800 who, after killing John, lost his purpose and in the years since, has regained some semblance of mental autonomy, got married… oh, I can’t type that with a straight face, but it really happened, all that, in this movie. He of course helps our ladies despite Sarah’s initial understandable OH HELL NO reaction to the very idea.
This movie has scenes that mirror key moments in those two movies too, so it ends up being both a fan-service and a middle finger. The fact that this movie brings absolutely nothing new to the table, not even a fresh villain, means that it’s just a recycled Terminator film that exists only to reboot the entire franchise by keeping everything the same, only swapping out the male characters for new female versions that are otherwise exactly the same as those male characters. What’s the point of this lazy, unimaginative “re-imagining” of an already stale franchise? Can’t the scriptwriters – all male, mind you – and the people who came up with the story – also all males, because these days female empowerment is a concept pushed forth by men in Hollywood to make money from the current sociopolitical climate in the US – do something more with the characters other than swapping out penises for vaginas?
This lazy lack of imagination only adds fuel to the allegations that these days Hollywood is creatively bankrupt, and is trying to remain relevant by making superficial reboots featuring racial- and gender-swapped characters that add little to the whole proceeding, and this is a heinous shame because Mackenzie Davis, Linda Hamilton, and Natalia Reyes absolutely kick rear asses in this movie. They have solid chemistry and their interactions are a right balance of humor, angst, and pathos, although a part of me still feels that Dani should be a little more emotionally distraught after all she has gone through here. These actors deserve to be in a Terminator movie that allows their characters to flex their muscles and be something more than gender-swapped Kyle and John on repeat, with Sarah just going through the same old stuff she did in the second movie.
The framing of key scenes to mirror those in the previous two movies only reinforces how much these actors are wasted in their roles. Also, I feel increasingly bored as the movie progresses because I’ve watched those previous two movies many times – they are some of my favorite films, after all – and now I feel like I’m just watching a watered-down fan film that heavily plagiarizes those two films. Also, is it just me, or the T-1000 looks far more frightening with its more sophisticated special effects compared to the Rev-9, and that fellow was from a movie made in 1991?
Maybe I will enjoy this movie more if I am seeing a Terminator movie for the first time, or I have only watched the last few sequels. I still enjoy watching the three ladies kick rear ends in their roles, mind you, so it’s not like I’ve completely wasted my time. It’s just that Terminator: Dark Fate will feel like a very unnecessary retread of the first two movies in this series compressed into one film, only with certain key male characters swapped out for female clones as a lazy, superficial attempt to grasp at relevance. Sure, watch this one if you want, but I’d suggest waiting for it to hit the streaming services first.