REVIEW: Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
PEx Reviewer: pabzicles
A serviceable, familiar and explosive follow-up, which combines elements of both Terminator (T1) and Judgment Day (T2) featuring the welcoming return of iconic Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800. Dark Fate serves as a terminator to other not-well received sequels in the franchise that it prevents from being one and successfully do so. The best sequel since T2, but not in any way tops Cameron’s Terminator films.
In Mexico City in the year 2020, Resistance fighter Grace (Mackenzie Davis) and new Terminator model Rev 9 (Gabriel Luna) was both sent from the future to carry out opposing missions: to defend and terminate a young Mexican woman named Dani (Natalia Reyes). To survive from deadly and highly advanced Rev 9, Dani must depend on the augmented human Grace and Sarah Connor, who is still hunting terminators. As the Rev 9 destroys everything and everyone in its way to kill Dani, the three women will eventually cross path to the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) that comes to their aid to fight for the future.
As long as the first trailer came out, I’ve read lots of comments regarding this film, considering it to be “woke”. Receiving a misogynistic backlash for featuring three powerful female characters which for me is hypocritical. First of all, James Cameron’s Terminator or Jim’s films, in general, always features strong women so there is no way that this rightful sequel does not presents women. In my defense, even though the film is written, directed and produced by men, it still draws tough and strong female characters, albeit it tries to inject immigrant issues just to be relevant.
Its writers gave these three leading characters a good backstory that is believable and on point not to say that is a feminist film just to be gender sensitive nor offers in-your-face feminism like majority of female-led blockbuster films these days. Sarah Connor is consistently a bad *** that can guard herself against any danger. The same reason why characters such as hers or Eleanor Ripley of Alien resonates so much. Opposite to her portrayal in previous films that she always dreams about the apocalypse and shed a tear, Sarah becomes a hardened woman here due to the death of his son John. Her seriousness and crassness here offers comedic moments from time to time.
Mackenzie Davis superb performance as a soldier-assassin that serves a chief protector of Dani, seems like a mix of Kyle Reese and T-800 Arnold. Sent from the future to defend her savior which turns out to be Dani. And of course, Dani that serves as a replacement to John Connor. Natalia Reyes only delivered an average performance, but her story arc is the epicenter of the film. The film shifting its focus to a Latin woman is a right step for representation. As we all know Mexico is not foreign to the franchise either, for Sarah has Latinx friends and at some point decided to flee to it. Dani as the future leader of the Legion (what Skynet is in the alternative future created when Sarah Connor stopped 1997's Judgement Day), is working against a predestined fate and at the same time mapping her own future.
It's just so amazing to see these women who can guard themselves independently in the same way chose to protect each other. They may have certain disagreements, but it does not root from petty drama, but because they perceive things differently. Even by including Arnold as T-800, their stories are moving in a full circle and smartly written.
The robotic villains have visible improvements here, but it does not shy away from giving a nod to classic designs. The Legion robots look like an infusion of metallic and other worldly creature. Rev 9 is indeed like T-1000 but has a metal endoskeleton it can separate itself from this time. But unlike Robert Patrick remarkable impression as the mimetic poly alloy, Gabriel Luna somehow lacks the same aura to deliver an unnerving existence as a villain.
Tim Miller as a visual effects specialist before directing Deadpool as expected will deliver an impressive CGI enhanced action sequences. Even from the get go, the chase between Rev 9 and Grace is one of the exciting moments of this film. The actors deliver impressive action choreography and stunts. With Millers ability to handle every action with proper pacing and direction, he produced battle sequences on land, at sea and even in the air as if you are watching a war drama. At times feels lengthy but satisfying. The only problem is that the majority of all of those exhilarating moments are somehow reminiscent to the action sequences of both T1 and T2.
In conclusion, Dark Fate has a lot of things done right, but it also has a lot of things done the same way either. Even though it has not wholly left the shadow of its predecessors, I can say that the fate of Terminator franchise is now brighter this time around.
PEx Rating: 7/10
Terminator: Dark Fate in cinemas Oct. 30.