“Terminator: Dark Fate” isn’t destined to become an instant classic, but it is highly entertaining. This formulaic yet far from disappointing sequel delivers what fans want, continuing the tradition made famous by the series: cutting edge sci-fi effects, first class action, and badass women heroines.
It’s been almost 25 years since Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) changed the bleak future by preventing Judgment Day. Things are going well for the human race, until a deadly new Terminator (Gabriel Luna) travels through time to hunt a kill his target, Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). If she has any hope of surviving, Dani must join forces with Sarah and time traveling, augmented super-soldier Grace (Mackenzie Davis). They’re outgunned and outfought at every turn, until the trio of women are led to a quiet cabin in Texas — and a literal blast from the past.
The story finds a (mostly ridiculous) method to give the fans what they want: a reunion between Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The best surprise is spoiled in the trailer, so by the time Arnold shows up, it has lost its gravitas. The scenes that reintroduce his T-800 (now a family man that calls himself Carl) to the story are silly and the explanation doesn’t quite work (if SkyNet doesn’t exist, then how does he know when the new Terminators are being sent to Earth?). As with most blockbuster entertainment, it’s best not to ask too many questions.
The plot doesn’t change much from the expected “Terminator” story line and may be predictable, but the film is packed with quality sci-fi action, fun, and spectacle. The action scenes are well-placed and well-paced, which keeps things exciting. The film has no problems putting its characters in perilous situations and creating a feeling of real danger, especially in the spectacular finale at the Hoover Dam.
It’s great to see the series continue its legacy of strong women in lead roles, and Reyes is a fine jumpstart for the new generation. The story keeps a strong feminist angle which, unlike other movies, does not feel forced or disingenuous. Dani is a realistic character and wonderful building block for future sequels.
“Terminator: Dark Fate” is a solid entry in the Terminator legacy, providing a thrill-a-minute ride for fans of the franchise.