Image: Linda Hamilton and Mackenzie Davis in Terminator: Dark Fate © Photograph by Kerry Brown. Property of Skydance Productions/Paramount Pictures [Source: IMDB]
Once again a Terminator from our dystopian future is sent back in time to the present. Targetting a young girl, it comes faced off with an enhanced human-cyborg that has also been sent back to protect the girl. Crossing paths with the infamous Sarah Conner, the two team up to once again protect someone from a Terminator.
Director: Tim Miller. Starring: Mackenzie Davis, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Luna 
“I’ll be back” he stated. And back he was…over, and over, and over and over again. I think this is a fitting comment for the entire Terminator franchise. Coming back over and over repeating the same mistakes and the same story trying to clutch onto the glory that it once had. Much like Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, who after returning to Hollywood has done nothing outside of trying to remind people of all the great movies he did – while he soils their memory with half baked, nostalgia trips.
Then just to add insult to injury, they thought “oh hey the last Terminator didn’t do so well….bring back Linda Hamilton, we will just get as close as we can to remaking Terminator 2”. Which is no joke, they’ve done their best to repeat the same plot as the Terminators that worked while telling you to forget everything about the ones that didn’t work so well. It all feels familiar – in the worst sense possible. Even the progress of types of location and action set pieces seem to be directly mirroring Terminator 2. It’s not just obvious but its lazy, serving a purpose in reminding you that the Terminator Franchise is incapable of moving on from John and Sarah Connor as well as Schwarzenegger.
What would serve the franchise-best now is a fresh original story away from the narrative, we admittedly loved. But here Tim Miller tries his best work with what he was given from Cameron’s nostalgia-driven script. He manages to bring some interesting narrative concepts to the Sarah Connor story that do make for a nice little addition to the canon story. He even brings an incredible action set piece to the middle act of the film, that did lack some oomph but ultimately is what is taken away from this film more than anything else. Arnold does bring an admittedly odd but fresh take to his iconic Terminator role but it comes across like some kind of strange wish-fulfilment fantasy for the role. All wrapped up in convenient, unexplained and wincing explanation that is unbelievably silly.
The film fundamentally doesn’t take itself seriously but it wants its audience to, resulting in a strange juxtaposition of tone. Meaning nothing really lands during the picture. Some of the casting while acted well enough, just don’t have the screen presence to be believable, our ‘regular woman’ being hunted by the new terminator and the new terminator himself. Not to mention they made the new terminator so overly over the top of what it can do it takes away all suspense from the action. It doesn’t feel threatening at all, just a mute, lifeless man shifting in an out of the frankly ridiculousness of what it can do. Perhaps Terminator’s real dark fate is that it is doomed to repeat itself over and over chasing the same “hasta la vista baby” mic drop moments but ultimately dooming itself like the apocalypse Sarah Connor had visions of.
3 thoughts on “Terminator: Dark Fate (dir. Miller)”
Not had a chance to see the new Terminator film yet, doesn’t sound too promising though going by your review of it. I still think the original and T 2 were the best. I guess Dark Fate is an attempt to redress the balance after the other somewhat lacklustre sequels which followed. I was hoping Dark Fate would be better because Sarah Conner was returning.
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You are right. This movie is certainly trying to wash away the sins of the latter terminators following T2. But ultimately it does follow the same mistakes that those terminators showcased. Linda Hamilton did very little for me personally (Perhaps I should have mentioned this in the review but I felt I said it enough with Schwarzenegger), but her addition followed Arnolds in which he was there because they don’t know what else to do with the franchise, and they wanted some “cool” factor.
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It does seem like they were trying to make this the Terminator 3 they wished they’d made way back doesn’t it? Linda Hamalton and Schwarzeneggers’s return sadly don’t seem to have worked to give this sequel the energy to really do anything that different. I think I’ll still see it to make up my mind, but I must don’t think my expectations will be that high tbh.