Terminator: Dark Fate – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Terminator: Dark Fate – Fateful Return of Robot/Action Familiarity

Rehash and repeat, a motto that has become the staple of long running franchises.  It can bring about amazing results (Blade Runner 2049) or fail in its execution (RoboCop – 2014).  The Terminator series has attempted to build upon its lore but has failed three times since the release of T2: Judgment Day.  This next installment brings about a unique twist that spins the lore in a reboot style.  Terminator: Dark Fate takes the ‘rehash and repeat’ formula and creates a pseudo return to form for the franchise.

The story takes place decades after the original Judgement Day, where an older Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) and Grace (Mackenzie Davis), a human/cyborg hybrid must team up to prevent a different but darker future.  The direction tackles a familiar outline that many fans will recognize:

Two characters are sent from the future (One Good and One Bad) to fight to change or keep their timeline intact.

Unlike the sequels that came out after T2: Judgement Day, this one completely wipes those out of continuity.  Being a direct sequel to the first two films, it provides the director (Tim Miller) and producer (James Cameron) a through line to create a straight forward narrative while pushing the franchise in a new direction.  By keeping the story very simplistic, it allows for the characters and action to be the main crux of the journey.  The audience watches Conner and Grace evolution from their specific points in time, coming to head as they fight an evolved Terminator.  This allows for the past, present and future to come in sync, creating a sandbox for characterization to feel real and wholesome.  This gives context to Conner’s reluctancy to certain things and Grace’s steadfast approach to protecting a certain individual from the enhanced/liquified Terminator.  Their relationship is the crux to everything that happens, brought through slick dialogue and heavy exposition.  Even when things seem convoluted within the use of the time travel trope, the focus on the characters and action creates the notion where any real plot holes or unimportant compared to the journey.

As the story moves a long, it becomes a combination of high-octane action and a cat-and-mouse game.  No matter how generic the scenarios start out as, it’s the adrenaline that will have the audience on the edge of their seats.  From the epic car chases to the hand-to-hand combat, Miller pushes the action to the forefront.  This allows for the core element to shine brightly while paralleling a forward momentum with new characters and aspects to the lore.  The third act brings everything to a predictable final confrontation.  The typical aspect of ‘good vs bad’ is rendered within amazing visuals and high-pace action.  The climax leaves the audience with a feeling of ambiguity, but it provides a window of opportunity for more stories to be told.  Terminator: Dark Fate reproduces a lot of familiar characters and tropes, but it does it in a way that highlights the strongest aspect of the franchise while creating forward momentum.  If you’re a fan of this series or great action, this is one for you.  I say it is worth seeing at the theater as a matinee.      

Full Score – 3.5 out of 5 (Matinee)

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