Sarah Connor and a hybrid cyborg human must protect a young girl from a newly modified liquid Terminator from the future.
The sixth film in the ‘Terminator’ franchise has its moments but is unfortunately every bit as inconsequential as every other film in the series beyond ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’. Essentially retconning much of what happened after that film, it’s an attempt to start a new timeline (and a ‘new’ franchise) within the series but instead of reinforcing the series strengths, it emphasises the shortcomings that have plagued the majority of the ‘Terminator’ sequels. After a brief opening sequence set in the late 90s, the film jumps to 2020 and Mexico City, where a new terminator (Gabriel Luna) is sent back in time to kill Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), a person of importance in the new future ‘Dark Fate’ is starting to outline. Her protection is led by Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an augmented human also sent from the future, as well as a couple of familiar faces from the series past.
As a film in its own right, there’s much to enjoy here. The action scenes are generally entertaining, there are some good homages to the first two films in the series, and Gabriel Luna fits the bill as the latest incarnation of the terminator. It’s where the film tries to fit into the wider ‘Terminator’ mythology that it struggles and the attempts to tie a new narrative with Dani alongside an old one (with Linda Hamilton and Arnie’s returning characters) don’t really work. There is promise in exploring the nature of a machine becoming more human through Schwarzenegger, but it’s half baked here and feels particularly basic when ‘Blade Runner 2049’ and ‘Ex Machina’ covered this theme so thoroughly in recent years. Natalia Reyes puts in a decent performance (and I really liked Mackenzie Davis as Grace), but I didn’t buy her as a tough resistance leader, no matter how many inspirational monologues the writers gave her to read towards the end of the film.
‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ isn’t a low point for the series, but it is another disposable entry and after a disappointing box office and lukewarm appraisal, perhaps this will be the final nail in the coffin of this series. If that’s the case, 1 and 2 will still stand as classics to be watched time and time again, but it’s a shame that no one was able to take the story forward in a satisfactory way, including original creator James Cameron who was back involved with this particular film.
Directed By: Tim Miller
Starring: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes and Gabriel Luna