“Terminator” is a series that’s been a glutton for ridicule for a while now. Thankfully, “Terminator: Dark Fate” chooses to only acknowledge the first two movies — the good ones. The newest film returns to its former glory with a simple plot and thrilling action.
The film uses a similar plot to the original movie to keep the series from becoming excessively complicated and remain entertaining. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) has stopped Skynet from destroying humanity, but a different company called Legion becomes the new future cause of mankind’s near end. Daniella “Dani” Ramos (Natalia Reyes) has become the new prey of the Rev-9 Terminator (Gabriel Luna).
Dani runs from the advanced terminator with the help of Connor and future tech-enhanced resistance fighter Grace (Mackenzie Davis). This keeps the film fast-paced, as the Rev-9 relentlessly pursues the group as they escape it with Dani. Grace’s abilities allow her to battle the Rev-9 on somewhat even grounds, leading to exciting fights. Heavier items such as rebar and sledgehammers swing around like a child’s toy with normally crippling blows that hardly phase either being as they bounce around.
Since “Terminator 2,” Connor has been hunting any terminators who appear in her timeline, leaving her a bitter, yet prepared, hunter. Her saltiness leads to humorous moments, as she insults Dani and Grace’s lack of survival knowledge, such as avoiding technology like street cameras on main roads and Dani’s phone to avoid giving up their location to the Rev-9 quickly. Throughout the film, Connor reflects on the long-term impact “Terminator 2” has on her life, resulting in the occasional heartfelt moment.
The Rev-9 is a terrifying hybrid of terminators. An endoskeleton — much like the T-800/Carl (Arnold Schwarzenegger) — hosts a separate liquid metal terminator, resulting in gruesome combos. The skeleton is often left to pilot vehicles, giving the liquid metal part the chance to fire at the group with ease, forcing Grace into defense often. When combined, fights are even tougher, as the liquid metal easily absorbs the impact of any firepower thrown at it while maintaining its momentum with the skeleton base.
These moments allow for interesting visual effects as the liquid metal face peels away to reveal killer glowing eyes. Modern technology gives the Rev-9 an edge as well, as it’s able to access military bases, drones and anything else that could be exploited with deadly results.
No matter how many new terminator models are made, it’s strange that they never seem to have enough information to convincingly lie to people. It indicates something’s off when it doesn’t use Dani’s nickname and brings her lunch to work despite food already sitting next to her work station. This seems like a major and embarrassing flaw for terminators since they can disguise as anyone but are still terrible at deceiving others. While not a major flaw in the story beyond the beginning, blending in shouldn’t be a problem with how many upgrades terminators have received.
Callbacks to previous films come off as cheesy but still work well. The signature, “I’ll be back,” is still used for humor as Connor firebombs a terminator as opposed to smashing a car through a building like in the original film. Connor constantly uses her own experience to try explaining to Dani why she’s important to the future. This also makes it easy to understand Connor’s frustration over the destruction of Skynet not ending the slaughter of humanity by robots.
“Terminator: Dark Fate” is a solid yet simple action movie. It feels similar to the first two movies while trying to slightly mix up the formula. There’s not much going on in terms of any deep meaning behind anything. Honestly, it’s another “Terminator” movie, so, of course, there’s plenty of violence and running away from terminators. As long as there’s popcorn to eat and a love for gratuitous brutality within, this film can be a great time.
Contact Caleb Barbachem at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.