When Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator first informed a police desk sergeant that he would “be back,” little did the sergeant – along with the rest of us – know that he meant “over and over again, in countless sequels and prequels.” It would take a sleuth with Holmes-like skills to figure out how all the timelines fit within the overarching Terminator narrative. The saga’s downfall began with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (which, in my opinion, is still the truest to Cameron’s original two classics), escalated with the meandering Terminator: Salvation, and culminated with the horrendous Terminator: Genisys.
Now VFX-artist-turned-director Tim Miller (the man behind Deadpool) teams up with the “original crew” – James Cameron (who produces and gets a “story by” credit), Linda Hamilton (who reprises her role as Sarah Connor) and Arny in a fleshed-out role (as opposed to pixelated cameos) – in an attempt to resuscitate the fledgling franchise with Terminator: Dark Fate. Do they succeed? Not even close. While the film has its share of thrilling set-pieces and nostalgic throwback moments, it ultimately treads overly familiar territory, with a screenplay as clunky as a skinned, half-demolished T-800.
“…a cyborg human from the future, tasked with protecting… Dani from Rev-9, a new-and-improved liquid (!) Terminator…”
The somewhat-complex story takes place after the events of Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Forget Salvation and Genisys ever happened (shouldn’t be too difficult). Mackenzie Davis plays Grace, a cyborg human from the future, tasked with protecting a young Mexican woman, Dani (Natalia Reyes), from Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna), a new-and-improved liquid (!) Terminator. Unbeknownst to Dani, in a few years, she will become crucial in leading the resistance against the machines. So yeah, forget Skynet (this may prove to be a tad more difficult).
Just when Grace and Dani realize they may not be up to the challenge, in comes Sarah Connor with a machinegun (make that several). With Rev-9 on their a***s, they embark on a journey to Texas, to seek help from you-know-who, who now lives in a woodsy cabin with a family, and is known as… Carl. Complicating matters, there’s a dark history between Carl and Sarah, making her hell-bent on killing the humanized robot. Yet they have to put their differences aside and save Dani first, in an ultimate showdown.
"…a screenplay as clunky as a skinned, half-demolished T-800"