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TERMINATOR: DARK FATE gets 6/10 Apocalypse now?


Directed by Tim Miller

Starring Linda Hamilton, Mackenzie Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dani Ramos

6/10

We’ve been stung before by Terminator sequels. Each new iteration raises hopes and expectations that they’ll be as good as the first two films, but ultimately disappoints. Each has offered something new for us to tempt hope, the rise of Skynet, a post-Judgement Day setting, a soft reboot of the franchise. Terminator: Dark Fate similarly has a lot that seems tempting; the director of Deadpool at the helm, the return of involvement by original director and co-creator James Cameron (a first since Terminator 2: Judgement Day), the return of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor (same), even the involvement of writer Josh Friedman who perhaps had the one good sequel to arise after T2 in the form of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. With Terminator: Dark Fate promising to be a true successor to the first two films (wiping the slate clean of the three that went before), the simple question remains, will it be any good?

Well, the future is not set. Judgement Day has passed, and people survived just fine without two million+ sunblock. However, just because the world didn’t end in a nuclear fire on August 29, 1997, doesn’t mean Sarah (Linda Hamilton) and her son have had a happy life, or that the apocalypse has been cancelled. When another, more advanced Terminator (the Rev-9 played by Gabriel Luna) travels back from the future to kill a young Mexican factory worker (Natalia Reyes as Dani Ramos), Sarah finds herself butting horns with Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an augmented human from a different apocalyptic future, as to what is the best way to protect the new saviour of humanity.

This version of Terminator has a lot going for it, but ultimately has trouble standing on its own two feet. Miller launches into the film with a fierce enthusiasm producing a spectacular initial fight sequence and chase, that harkens back to elements of the first and second film, seemingly clearing the decks, in the hope of bringing something new. Unfortunately Terminator: Dark Fate doesn’t meet that promise in the later scenes, never managing to produce the spectacular conclusion we desire. As a script it’s not taut enough to capture the deadly game of cat and mouse being played by the Terminator, the social message woven into it about our strength of unity (as opposed to racial, gender or political divides) never really coalesces, and instead it seeks to rely on a series of unnecessary call backs to past glories.

The actors however, are certainly doing their bit to sell it. Davis is relentless as Grace, bringing speed and dexterity to a new breed of future soldier, Hamilton is bitterly cynical as a more ground down Connors, Reyes might get lost in the overstuffed script but brings fire to the role, and even a late appearance by Schwarzenegger demonstrates the actor’s ability at deadpan comedy.

After the reboot of Terminator: Genisys failed, this really does feel like someone desperately “turning it off and on again”. Terminator: Dark Fate brings us an interestingly designed vision of the franchise, but one that doesn’t feel fleshed out beyond the visual components. It’s a passable action film in its own right, managing to deliver some thrills and spills, but it is also doesn’t give us something new to make it a worthwhile sequel to the franchise, and that is something Terminator: Dark Fate tries too hard to be.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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