The latest Terminator finally ‘fights the future’ for the franchise – by providing the best film in the series since the first two.
With fantastic performances from Linda Hamilton and Mackenzie Davis, there’s a pleasing familiarity that finally – for the most part – gives us the follow-up the series deserves.
It won’t sit in the ‘classic’ category like the James Cameron-directed first two movies, but meanders welcomingly in ‘no man’s land’ between 1984’s The Terminator (Rating: 4.5/5) and 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Rating: 5/5); and the comfortably ‘lesser’ sequels since then in the form of 2003’s Terminator: Rise of the Machines (Rating: 3/5), 2009’s Terminator: Salvation (Rating: 2.5/5) and 2015’s god-awful Terminator: Genisys (Rating: 2/5). With the franchise now reverting back to Cameron – who’s on production duties here – his trademark ‘finger prints’ are satisfyingly smudged all over this.
So why is this just very solid but not amazing? It’s down to Deadpool director Tim Miller doing a lot of the right things to not fall foul of the last three entries in terms of fan service – but in doing so plays it a little on the safe side.
Just like what JJ Abrams kind of did with The Force Awakens and George Lucas’ original Star Wars – this re-treads the same plot devices of Terminator 2 in a roundabout way. Which is no bad thing – but it’s ultimately a fairly generic ‘A to B’ plot.
Set 27 years after the events of said ‘masterpiece’ film, a new modified liquid-metal Terminator called a Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) – which is an ‘army of two’ by being able to extract his solid endoskeleton to fight alongside him – is sent from a new ‘alternate’ future by the new Skynet-esque Legion to terminate Natalia Reyes’ young woman Dani Ramos.
But a new ‘augmented’ human-hybrid super soldier assassin called Grace (Mackenzie Davis) – basically a female version of Captain America if you will – is also sent to protect her, and fortunately Linda Hamilton’s Sarah ‘who’s had an episode on America’s Most Wanted dedicated to her’ Connor is back ‘hunting’ Terminators, to lend a hand as they cross paths.
Along the way Arnold Schwarzenegger makes a noteworthy cameo as another T-800 ‘Model 101’ Terminator – and Edward Furlong’s John Connor is also thrown in for continuity contentment purposes.
With Brad Fiedel’s iconic theme tune, and plenty of nods to T2, this definitely gets the ‘fanboy’ references right – and extends franchise lore nicely.
But it’s really the performances of Hamilton and Davis that makes Dark Fate what it is – which helps deflect away from the arguably tad disappointing ‘paint by numbers’ storyline.
It’s just missing that ‘little something’ that prevents it from being great – it’s not really a ‘second watch’ or ‘Blu-ray must-buy’ kind of film – but it does more than enough to put the franchise back on track to potentially ignite a proper new series to compliment the original two.
And for that it’s finally worth cracking open a can and celebrating – as it’s ‘Miller Time’.
ESP Rating: 3.5/5
Cast: Linda Hamilton, Mackenzie Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta, Tom Hopper, Enrique Arce & Edward Furlong
Running Time: 2 Hrs 8 Mins
Director: Tim Miller
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