HOLLYWOOD—It is hard to believe that it has been four years since the last “Terminator” flick. It seems every attempt to revitalize the franchise since the phenomenal “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” has been a complete bust. “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” was fun, but nothing stellar. “Terminator: Salvation” was just dreadful,” and “Terminator: Genisys” is nearly forgettable. I mean many people I speak to barely remember that entry.
So what does it take to get the audience back into the multiplex? How about the return of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in the role that made her a household name? Yes it has been over 28 years, since audiences have seen Hamilton in the iconic role. There have been many franchises in recent history attempting to reclaim its glory and “Terminator: Dark Fate” is an extreme, explosive, fun ride.
When it comes to the world of sequels, I don’t think anyone has the magic touch that director James Cameron has. “Judgment Day” was fantastic and what he did with “Aliens” just proves you can make a movie that is better than the original. Cameron returns, but only as a producer. I suspect if he was in the director’s chair and took the task of crafting the screenplay we might have a tighter narrative that was on equal footing as the last entry.
“Dark Fate” is not perfect, but it’s not terrible either. The latest chapter sees Sarah on the hunt for terminators in the midst of realizing stopping ‘Judgment Day’ did not change the future. This soon leads the audience to meeting our protagonist Daniella (Natalia Reyes). I will admit Reyes doesn’t exude that much charisma and fight to the character. At times she comes across lost, distant and just plain confused. I’m not sure if that is intentional of the script or just bad writing. While Reyes falters on the acting front, kudos go to Hamilton, Mackenzie Davis and Gabriel Luna who bring the most to their characters.
Davis is the newly evolved version of the Terminator; a cyborg with a level of compassion. I think in the “Terminator” universe the goal has always been to manifest a machine that had capabilities similar to a human being. Grace doesn’t fully get their on the acting front, but her abilities to protect Dani are sensational. The fight sequences between Grace and the Terminator Rev-9 (Luna) is incredible. Luna is indeed one of the most accelerated and advanced; he can split into two, he can shape-shift and has a liquid “mimetic polyalloy” that makes him difficult to destroy.
He feels like the most fleshed out character of all the characters in the movie which is slightly disappointing, as I wanted to see more from Hamilton and the original T-800 who has now coined himself Carl (Arnold Schwarzenegger). I’ve never looked at Schwarzenegger as a terrific actor. He simply immerses himself into the role that has been written for him. Carl has a family and is at odds with Sarah who does not trust him and for the right reasons. I love that tension, but I can sense it could have been extracted so much more.
“Dark Fate” delivers explosions galore, gunfire to satisfy the biggest actions fans, and above all fight sequences that are fantastic to say the least. You enter a “Terminator” movie with a certain checklist of things you expect and this movie gives you all that and more. The only caveat is that fans of the franchise will always compare it to “Judgment Day” and it will be a long day in hell before a movie in this franchise ever lives up to that hype.