'Terminator: Dark Fate' has its problems, but more than holds its own for franchise fans

Friday, November 22, 2019 | by: Mat DeKinder

In this era of sequels and reboots and sequels to reboots and sequels that pretend none of the reboots even happened, of course we wind up with “Terminator: Dark Fate.”

For those of you keeping score at home, this is technically the sixth movie in the Terminator franchise, but as a series it hasn’t been relevant since “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” came out in 1991.

That was when writer/director James Cameron washed his hands of his creation and went on to bigger and better things like sinking ocean liners and communing with blue aliens.

Cameron is back as a producer and co-writer for “Dark Fate” with the hope he can return a little 20th century magic to the franchise.

The premise of “The Terminator” movies involves a future war between humans and artificial intelligence. In order to gain the upper hand in the conflict, the machines send an indestructible robot back in time to kill the mother of the future leader of the human rebellion before he is born.

The humans send an overmatched protector back in time as well and there’s lots of running and chasing and explosions along the way.

“Dark Fate” disregards the previous three movies and more or less picks up after “Terminator 2,” where the end of the world hasn’t been avoided, just postponed.

We find ourselves in Mexico City, where the unassuming Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) is going about her day as a factory worker when a shapeshifting killer robot (Gabriel Luna) shows up with the singular focus of making her dead.

Fortunately for Dani, enhanced, super-soldier Grace (Mackenzie Davis) has been sent there from the future to drag her out of there. The pair cross paths with Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton), the original Terminator-target-turned-Terminator-exterminator, and then we proceed with all of the aforementioned running and chasing and explosions.

Is this movie completely unnecessary? Yes. Does it have plot holes? Absolutely. Is the reappearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the original T-800 Terminator confusing on several levels? Yup.

But, if you’re looking for a slam-bam action flick to recapture that “Terminator” spirit and clear the very low bar of becoming the third-best film in the franchise, then “Dark Fate” is just what the doctor ordered.

Director Tim Miller (best known for helming “Deadpool”) knows the recipe for a good “Terminator” movie is to string together just enough plot to be coherent and then bludgeon the audience with intense action set piece after intense action set piece.

The best part of “Dark Fate” is the feminist take on the “Terminator” formula. Davis is impressive as Grace as both a physical and emotional force; and Hamilton as a woman in her mid-60s is twice as badass as your generic musclebound meathead action hero.

“Terminator: Dark Fate” has its problems, but for fans of the franchise who like their action relentless and forceful, it more than holds its own.

“Terminator Dark Fate” is rated R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity.

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