Who knew Terminators age just like the rest of us? In Terminator: Dark Fate, the sixth iteration of the franchise, Arnold Schwarzenegger is back, just as he always promised, and he definitely has put the years on since we first met him in the role of the mass killing machine in James Cameron’s 1984 original. The real joy this time around is that he again is joined by Linda Hamilton in her iconic Sarah Connor role, not seen since T2 in 1991, which was the last film in the franchise with which Cameron had any involvement.
He doesn’t direct Dark Fate but is one of five writers with story credit, as well as producer. The directing reins have been taken over very capably by Tim Miller of Deadpool fame, and he shows his expertness in staging massive action sequences whether on freeways, in cargo planes, on top of dams or underwater. These frequent sequences dominate the movie, but the filmmakers also are keen to let a little character development breathe, and that they do especially well with the female trio (not Charlie’s Angels, thank god) at the center of the plot.
Cameron believes this film is the true sequel to T2 and that we can just forget that the third, fourth and fifth films ever happened. You will have to do that to buy into this plot, which finds Grace (Mackenzie Davis) dropping to Earth, Terminator-style, totally naked but really, as we discover, not a true Terminator but rather an augmented human with enhanced powers. She is here to save a Mexican factory worker, Dani (Natalia Reyes), from her fate in the future, the “chosen womb,” as it were. Soon Hamilton comes into the picture and joins the pair in fighting and fleeing the real new evil Terminator called Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna), who is a nifty, spruced-up new version of the killing machine than we’ve ever seen before. He can split himself in half when attacked and put all his oily black ooze back together on a moment’s notice. As usual it is nearly impossible to kill one of these things, and that makes it pretty ludicrous as Rev-9 just keeps coming back for more.
But so does Arnold — or Carl, as he now is called — a guy who apparently sells drapes. He lives in a remote cabin fronted by an American flag and is married with a kid. Ah, nice. T-800 has found domestic bliss in his old age. That is until Sarah Connor and team show up and, since he killed her son, is only interested in killing him until he explains he has changed and is willing to help them in their fight against Rev-9 and to protect Dani. This is how those five writers who created the story have figured out how to reteam Hamilton and Schwarzenegger. With his quips and straight-laced acting style, Schwarzenegger always is amusing to watch but, at 72, he is getting long in the tooth as an action star. It is not difficult to spot where the stunt doubles come in, but Hamilton — who is nearing official retirement age herself — never lets us down, does most of her stunts and looks great with those big guns. She also plays the older Sarah to the hilt and rescues every scene she is in. I felt a sigh of relief the minute she showed up. Hamilton is worth the price of admission for this edition of the saga, and it is good to have her back. The younger actors are effective as well, and there is nice work from Reyes, Luna and Davis, who somehow shine through all the hardware and nonstop action stuff going on.
This is a reasonably entertaining sequel — dumb at points but still fun. Skydance’s David Ellison produced alog with Cameron. Paramount releases it today. Check out my video review with scenes from the film by clicking the link above.
Do you plan to see Terminator: Dark Fate? Let us know what you think.
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