Terminator Dark Fate (Movie Review)

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: Sarah Connor and a guardian from the future must attempt to protect a young woman hunted down by a dangerous and powerful, new breed of Terminator.

REVIEW: As a tried and true fan of both THE TERMINATOR and T2: JUDGMENT DAY, it was impossible to not get at least a little excited at the prospect of Sarah Connor’s return. While Arnold Schwarzenegger has made regular appearances in everything that came after T2 – aside from TERMINATOR SALVATION – there was always something missing from the sequels. So when the announcement came that Linda Hamilton would be returning to play Sarah once again, there was a massive level of excitement at the prospect of her involvement. And now it’s here. TERMINATOR: DARK FATE brings the two back, and frankly it feels much closer in tone to the first two films than what we’ve witnessed since. At the very beginning, we are effectively made aware of the psychological state that Connor was in, and with that, a reminder of how significant she is to this series.

The Terninator’s target this time is Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). We find that she is living a normal life in Mexico working alongside her brother Diego (Diego Boneta) in a factory. The film wastes little time introducing Grace (Mackenzie Davis), her guardian from the future, and a new Terminator (Gabriel Luna), both seeking out Dani – for reasons that are revealed during the later half. With only minutes to spare, Grace is able to save Dani before this vicious beast takes her down. This time, the murderous cyborg is an exceptionally deadly specimen, one that is near impossible to destroy. In the middle of a massive chase sequence, Connor makes her first appearance in the film, and what a moment it is. Soon, Sarah, Dani and Grace are on the run, but they’re in need of something far more powerful than the arsenal they are equipped with. This leads them to an anonymous figure who has been helping Sarah kill off any Terminator that makes an appearance – one that has been hiding behind technology up until now.

Terminator, Dark Fate, Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tim Miller, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, sequel, JoBlo.com, actionGoing into DARK FATE, I made the decision to avoid the teasers and trailers as much as possible. There is something satisfying about stepping into a movie like this knowing next to nothing about what would unravel. That said, I’ll avoid spoiling much about the plot here. I will say however that I was a bit nervous as to how well the visual effects in the finished product would work due to the previews I did see. It’s not that they were terrible, but they just didn’t bring much confidence to what we were about to witness. Thankfully they do work in context of the story, and this latest chapter in the science fiction series is perhaps the best since T2. Much of that has to do with the return of Sarah. In this story, Hamilton is bruised and gruff and ready to take down anything that gets in her way. Her work here certainly feels true to the evolution that began with the first film up until its exceptional follow up.

Hamilton is completely in charge here. The actress isn’t afraid of looking weathered and worn. In every way, this feels like what Sarah Connor would’ve become. We learn more about what happened to her after the events in T2, and we are soon made aware of her lack of f*cks for anything other than massacring the killer cyborgs that invade her territory. Funnily enough, having her return all these years later as a cursing and intensely brutal killing machine herself, it almost feels like it wouldn’t have worked nearly as well has she returned before. Her involvement was absolutely necessary to make this film work. And while I’d rather not go into too much detail about Schwarzenegger’s return, it was quite a moment seeing these two working together again, older and perhaps a little wiser.

Terminator, Dark Fate, Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, sequel, Tim Miller, action, sequelMackenzie Davis (BLADERUNNER 2049) takes on the role of protector to the frightened, yet tough Dani. The two are thrown together quickly and must escape Gabriel Luna’s villainous baddie. For Davis, the actress handles the action especially well, but she adds a layer of humanity similar to what Michael Biehn brought in the original film. Natalia Reyes, as the innocent girl hunted down by a killing machine, is also well cast and easy to sympathize with. By adding Sarah to the mix, there is an exciting dynamic to the trio. While the story feels slightly familiar in terms of the how and why Dani is being hunted, it manages to avoid feeling like a generic sequel. Perhaps opening this up to another deadly and corrupt group of stupid humans not knowing when to stop messing with technology feels a tad repetitive, it still works. In fact, it works rather well.

When it comes to action, there are a number of thrilling set pieces that will have audiences hanging on the edge of their seats. In fact, having seen a bit too much of the first major Terminator attack, it was still a heart pounding and enthralling series of events. As for the CGI and the effects, Luna’s killing machine is a intriguing visual creation. It's one of the most efficient and dangerous that we’ve seen so far in this franchise. He is aggressive and deadly, and once he locks onto a target, there’s not much you can do to stop him. The film has an R-rating, and it’s certainly earns it. The violence however isn’t terribly over the top, but once it gets going, it ceases to stop with only a few breaks in between. Tim Miller (DEADPOOL) not only brings the action to the forefront, but he allows for strong characters to play off each other in the few quieter moments. While there is humor, it’s not at all excessive or disruptive to the story at hand.

Terminator, Gabriel Luna, Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Tim Miller, sequel, action, JoBlo.comBy bringing Linda Hamilton back to this iconic role, Tim Miller has given us the most satisfying sequel since the powerhouse of Jim Cameron’s T2. The actress brings a much needed sense of ferouciousness and intensity to her portrayal, and her relationship with both Davis and Reyes is a nice touch bringing a bit of soul to this story. Even the score by Junkie XL beautifully captures the brilliance of what Brad Fiedel gave us with his original work. Whether or not this was a story that needed to be told, I’m certainly glad it was. It would be a near impossible task to recreate the magic of the 1991 classic, but Miller certainly comes the closest we’ve seen. TERMINATOR: DARK FATE is a supercharged sequel, one that reminds us how necessary Sarah Connor is to the TERMINATOR universe.

Source: Arrow in the Head

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JimmyO is one of JoBlo.com’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.