The Terminator was a game-changer when it hit screens in 1984. It was probably the first time when Hollywood witnessed a humanoid robot hunting humans. Then, we had Judgment Day in 1991. We were left in awe by the undefeatable liquid metal, shapeshifting T-1000. But later came a series of deeply disappointing flicks that were were as soulless as the Skynet robots.
And now, we have Terminator: Dark Fate which is surprisingly good. Directed by Tim Miller with Laura Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising their respective roles, the film works as it thrives on the elements that gave life to Terminator 1 and 2. Dark Fate serves as a direct sequel to the first two flicks. Now with James Cameron himself involved in the project, Dark Fate rises above the grim ashes of Terminator 3-5. It is a beacon of hope for the franchise that spiraled downward with poor sequel after poor sequel.
Dark Fate is made of the usual stuff which we have already seen multiple times. We have Grace (Mackenzie Davis who gives a kickass performance with her stunts) who goes back in time to save Daniella (Natalia Reyes) from a Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) who is as powerful as T-1000 in Judgment Day. Every time Rev-9 is shot, he dissolves like a melting pot of tar and reassembles. Also, he has the ability to shred his endoskeleton that appears as if it has a matte finish.
This skeleton can operate on its own, thereby giving Rev-9 the ability to become two fiercely powerful robots. The performance of Gabriel Luna is stoic like Robert Patrick in Judgment Day. Linda’s character, Sarah Connor, on the other hand, has turned rough over the edges. She is calculative and cautious, following a tragic incident that shatters her life.
Sarah has faced a lot of robots ever since Judgment Day. She lives as a vigilante now, hunting down every Skynet assets. Naturally, Sarah hesitates to trust Grace and is overprotective of Daniella who is the resistance’s leader in the future. And then there is Arnold who is always the same; bulky mass of a man who can haul people or robots with just a flick of his hand.
Dark Fate has multiple car chases, fistfights and explosions. It has an overdose of action that is justified with extensive use of CGI. A fight sequence inside a massive military aircraft followed by its crash over a gigantic dam is shot with tight editing and nostalgic music.
There are goosebumps moments for die-hard fans who will jump in joy when the iconic background music erupts when the lead stars make a daring move. Dark Fate reminds us of what can work to a franchise if it gets plagued by ‘poor sequel syndrome’; just bring back the genius (Here it’s Cameron) who created the series.