We are all familiar with the standard procedure in a terminator movie. A portal from the future will appear in two areas of the city and naked human lookalike robots will come from there. One of them will be here to save a person and the other will be here to kill the same person. Yes, Terminator: Dark Fate is pretty much repeating that usual drill. But the movie according to me was a smartly tweaked repetition of the usual formula. It views things from the eyes of a set of evolved characters and that makes this film interesting even though it isn’t that refreshing.
An enhanced soldier named Grace has been sent from the future to save a girl named Daniella Ramos aka Dani. If there is a Grace to protect her, then there is obviously another terminator to kill her and he (Rev-9) also arrives at the scene. And while the human enhanced soldier Grace was finding it difficult to handle the Terminator, Sarah Connor returns to the scene to help her. The fight of the gang to survive the attack of the terminator and protect Dani is the story of Terminator: Dark Fate.
After the highly successful Terminator 1 and 2, there were several other Terminator films that never really managed to be catchy and thus when James Cameron decided to go back to his own franchise as a producer and writer, he decided to chuck all that and according to him this movie is a direct sequel to the second terminator film. I kind of liked the way it uses this profound idea of what we do in the very next second can change the whole future. With just one scene, Tim Miller’s Terminator: Dark Fate shows how John Conner stopped Skynet from happening (let it be suspense). From the word go, the film is on that action high. If you had seen the trailer of the film, there is one huge set-piece featuring the two sent from the future and Sarah Conner arrives at the end of that trailer to support one of them. The movie pretty much begins with that sequence. It’s a mix of engaging action choreography, clichéd Terminator strategy, and a little bit of nostalgia. Just like the other Terminator films, it is after that madness we get to know who all these characters are and the movie gradually reveals why Dani must be protected for a better future.
Tim Miller who previously made the highly successful Deadpool is trying to give a serious tone to the movie. There is a sequence where Sarah meets T800 in this movie. Her reaction to that moment as an emotionally vulnerable mother is somewhat affecting. I really loved that bit where T800 talked about how he developed something like a conscience after he completed his mission. A person getting killed by a machine that was sent from a future that never happened; felt like a fabulous idea for me, I don’t know about you guys. If this movie was made a couple of years back, that Endgame time travel sequence would have this movie on the list as a sensible interpretation of time travel. There is a layer of what disastrous things the AI technology could do in the future in the old Terminator films and in Dark Fate also we can see that statement getting repeated especially when Sarah Connor says “They Never Learn” when she learns about a Skynet equivalent named Legion. Terminator: Dark Fate is happening at a time when we are no longer raving about visual effects that show catastrophic action sequences. The James Cameron movies had a lot of practical effects and the visual effects were mostly used to depict that self-healing superpower of the Terminator. But here, the full dependence on visual effects somewhere takes away a natural charm from this movie.
Mackenzie Davis gets the meatier character in the movie as she plays the soldier Grace who comes from the future to protect her leader. She is that enhanced soldier who has this roughness of a machine and at the same time, she has the vulnerabilities of a human being. Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor handles the stubborn character effectively and this time she is the one who gets to say the line I will be back. Natalia Reyes plays the role of Dani and she handles the character neatly. From facing a shocking reality within a span of short time to bounce back within no time demands a character of immense mental strength and her portrayal of Dani had that. Arnold Schwarzenegger this time has a tougher task. Even though his character appears only in the last quarter of the movie, he has to play the role of a robot that has developed a conscience, but it is still a robot. And I must say the veteran did it smoothly. Gabriel Luna is the standard antagonist we see in the Terminator franchise and the Fahadh Faasil like acting with the eyes strategy does make him a pretty dangerous Rev-9.
When James Mangold made Logan, there was a character exploration angle in it which made us feel for the title character. I am not at all saying this movie is as good as Logan. To be honest, it is inferior to the two movies Cameron created without so much of CGI. But a kind of maturity in the behavior of certain characters, as they have gone through a lot in life gives Terminator: Dark Fate some likability in terms of concept. A Mexican national becoming the savior of humanity, women protecting each other and T800 justifying his weapon collection by adding “and… it’s Texas” has certain contemporary political texture to it.
A kind of maturity in the behavior of certain characters, as they have gone through a lot in life gives Terminator: Dark Fate some likability in terms of concept.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended