After 3 failed attempts to reach the high bar set by James Cameron in 1991, the Terminator franchise has stumbled and failed time and time again. However, this is the first time Cameron has returned to the franchise since T2, in both a writing and producing capacity. With his involvement and Tim Miller, director of Deadpool, behind the camera, many fans were curious to see if Dark Fate could live up to its predecessors. Also returning to the franchise for the first time since T2 is Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. Dark Fate is a direct sequel to T2 and ignores every film since then. Terminator Dark Fate surprised me with its well-directed action, great performances, and an interesting story choice made with Arnold’s T-800. That doesn’t mean I loved everything about it, there are some big issues with the overall story and the script that will without a doubt angry fans.
I think we’ve all been mistaken in assuming this franchise belongs to Arnold Swarzenegger because it belongs to Linda Hamilton. I had no idea how much I missed her presence in these films. From the moment she stepped on screen her personality and character brought the film to a whole new level. Hamilton doesn’t miss a beat when returning as Connor, she fills the shoes perfectly. Arnold Swarzenegger hasn’t been this good since T2. The direction they choose to go with his T-800 character is a bold choice, something we haven’t seen in the movies before. I won’t spoil it here, but for me, I liked the choice. It provided for some of the funniest moments of the film and killer lines said by Arnold. However, I can see a lot of fans having an issue with this plot point, but in my opinion, it was a risk that paid off.
The new cast in Dark Fate is probably the best newest set of characters we’ve seen from the sequels. Mackenzie Davis has a commanding screen presence invoking similar drive and determination that Sarah Connor had in the second movie. Gabriel Luna does a fairly good job at presenting himself as this unstoppable machine, although nowhere near as memorable as Arnie’s T-800 or Robert Patrick’s T-1000. As much as these new characters are well handled and you do grow to care for them, the story these characters are set on feels like a bit of a rehash of material we’ve already seen. It follows a very similar story beats of pretty much every Terminator movie. A terminator is sent back in time to kill someone who will be an important figure in the future. It’s a cat and mouse game with the hero and their protector(s) running away from a terminator. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Not much new ground is covered. Aside from the direction they choose to go with Arnie and a bold choice made at the beginning of the film, it’s practically the same Terminator movie we’ve seen before. The script here is also not the strongest. Too many throwaway lines that don’t land, and unnecessary exposition.
I had mentioned previously there was a choice made at the beginning of the movie that was a bold choice. This scene that happens at the beginning of the movie (which I won’t spoil) will be a breaking point for many fans. The scene disrespects what was concluded at the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. This will no doubt upset many fans and will immediately turn them off from the movie. Did I like the choice they made? No, there were better ways to resolve that story than the way they did it and still tell the same story they wanted to tell with Dark Fate. That being said, the choice upset me, but I put it to the side and enjoyed the movie for what it was. And what I got in return was a really good action movie, with great effects, a badass Sarah Connor, a great and different role for Arnold, and finally a fun Terminator movie. Sure the story has been done to death and the script is weak, but I enjoyed my time with Terminator: Dark Fate. If you can get over that opening scene, I think there is a fun movie to be had. If you can’t get over that opening scene, however, I completely get it.