Terminator: Dark Fate Review

***If you don’t want any spoilers, stop right here.***

When I first heard they were making another Terminator reboot, I knew it was unnecessary and I was right. Terminator: Genisys was a soft reboot, but Terminator: Dark Fate wiped out every Terminator film after Terminator 2: Judgement Day (T2).

***SPOILERS***

I had no interest in seeing Terminator: Dark Fate, but someone asked me to check out to discuss a few things they were confused about. I had no expectations and low curiosity.

Summary

Within five minutes of the film, young John Connor (Edward Furlong) is killed by another T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) sent after the events of Judgement Day causing everything after T2 be eliminated from the timeline. The character, that has been focal since the beginning, gets killed off in a nonsensical manner. If they stopped Skynet at the end of T2, why have a T-800 kill John? When was the T-800 sent? Was it around the same time as the T-1000? If so, was the T-800 waiting its turn? Skynet had to send that Terminator back RIGHT before it vanished from the future. It made no sense.

Sometime within the last 20 years after John’s death, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) has been receiving mysterious text messages with dates, times, coordinates, and “For John.” These texts are warning her of terminators arriving in her present day. Sarah becomes a Terminator hunter and, as a result of those messages, becomes aware of a Terminator (Rev-9) arriving in Mexico, but nevermind how Sarah finds out everyone is on a freeway. This is what leads her to our new damsel in distress, Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). Sarah later discovers a woman named Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an augmented human soldier, sent from the future to protect Dani.

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As they protect Dani, Grace uses future technology to decrypt Sarah’s mysterious text messages and discovers the same coordinates of the mystery texter was also tattooed on her side as a safe place to take Dani. Who were the messages coming from? The same T-800 who killed John 20 years ago.

After T-800 completed his mission, he had no purpose. He hung around humanity, learned, ended up in a relationship, and adopted a son. Through this family unit, he learned how much he devastated Sarah. After developing a conscience, he felt he owed Sarah by texting her anonymous information throughout the years.

The T-800, Sarah, Grace, and Dani all head out to fight Rev-9. We later discover Dani isn’t going to birth the next leader of the resistance, which Sarah assumed early in the film, she is the next leader. Grace volunteered to save Dani because Dani rescued and trained her in the future.

Skip to the end, Grace sacrifices her power core, remember she’s augmented, to be used as a weapon against the Rev-9. T-800 dies alongside Rev-9 while Sarah and Dani look on. In the end, Sarah is going to train Dani to prepare for the future.

I glossed over what Rev-9 can do and the fact that Skynet no longer exists because a new system called Legion is responsible for the next “Judgement Day” because it doesn’t matter.

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Thoughts

Terminator: Dark Fate pulls the same elements from the first two films with a dash of elements from the other films in the franchise. Terminator: Dark Fate didn’t feel new or add any kind of refreshing feel to the franchise.

We don’t get enough character development of Dani or Grace to care about what happens to them. It seems as though Hamilton and Schwarzennegger were just there for nostalgic purposes resulting in me not caring about what happened to them. The fight scenes tried to seem intense, but they all fell flat.

There was no bond between Dani and Grace regardless of the backstory. They seemed like two strangers who decided to hang together for safety. Their connection pales in comparison to John and the T-800 in T2. It doesn’t even stand up to the eventual trust between Sarah and the T-800. Now that I think about it, you could eliminate Grace from the story and have Sarah rescue Dani from Rev-9. Sarah could have easily found out Dani was the “new John.”

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Rev-9 didn’t have the same threatening demeanor as the previous Terminators. The T-1000 in T2 and T-X in Terminator: Rise of the Machines (T3) both created a sense of danger for the characters. Rev-9 didn’t bring a sense of fear causing me to not be concerned about what would happen to the characters.

If I wanted to be extra picky, they could have kept T3 in the timeline. At the end of that film, Skynet still activated regardless of what happened in T2. Since John gets killed in Terminator: Dark Fate, Dani could have been the new leader of the resistance against Skynet. There was no need to introduce Legion, a new artificial intelligence, without telling us how it came about and why it decided to destroy the world, but James Cameron wants us to forget about everything that happened after T2.

Political Correctness

There’s a forced women empowerment movement going on in Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong, as a woman, I’m all for strong women in films, but when it seems forced/unnatural, it becomes obvious as to what the film is trying to do.

Not only did they kill the “male savior” at the beginning, they also reduced Schwarzennegger’s role, in his own franchise, to a cameo. It takes about an hour before the T-800 appears.

It seems as though women’s empowerment is displayed as being masculine and showing any form of feminity is frowned upon. It’s OK for a strong ass-kicking woman to display femininity. A strong woman doesn’t mean her feminine qualities need to be stripped to a masculine archetype.  Not sure if Cameron thought this was an upgrade, but he did a better job of women empowerment with Sarah in the first two films.

Terminator: Dark Fate is a film filled with recycled material from other Terminator films, but the previous films did it better. Hopefully, this will be the last of the Terminator films because this franchise should have been terminated a long time ago.