This latest entry surpasses a low hurdle the others failed to jump over: be a decent movie.
Set 27 years after the events of “Judgement Day,” the film follows Dani, a factory worker who finds herself the target of a new model of Terminator known as the Rev-9. She’s saved by Grace, a soldier sent from the future who’s been augmented with cybernetic implants. The two are then picked up by Sarah Connor, who’s spent the last 20-plus years of her life hunting down Terminators.
Previous “Terminator” movies were about as enjoyable as being kicked in the gonads by a T-800. “Dark Fate” ignores the previous installments and is a direct sequel to “Judgement Day.”
In a smart move, the movie doesn’t focus on Sarah and her son John Connor. Instead, it’s a new threat and cast of characters trying to deal with the situation, with the old guard including actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton there to provide support.
In other words, it’s “Terminator: The Next Generation.”
Linda Hamilton is the best part of “Dark Fate.” Her character is bitter and remorseful, but protecting Dani gives her a renewed sense of purpose.
Director Tim Miller of “Deadpool” fame keeps things moving. Like with director James Cameron, he knows how to keep the action exciting but also kinetic. Many of the fights between the characters and the Rev-9 are furious and brutal.
“Terminator: Dark Fate” is at its best during the first two acts, where the action is frantic but not too crazy, but when the third act rolls around it goes overboard with one ludicrous moment of spectacle right after the other.
“Dark Fate’s” biggest problem is its familiarity. Like 2018’s “Halloween” and 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” it borrows a lot of the major story beats from the first two movies.
Instead of an AI called Skynet, it’s an AI called Legion which brings about the end of the human race in the future that Grace is sent back in time from. The Rev-9, while an intimidating threat, is just a hybrid of the robotic T-800 and liquid metal T-1000 from “Judgement Day.”
Yet, after the abomination that was “Terminator Genisys,” “Dark Fate” is a welcome breath of fresh air.
Was there any need for this movie? No. None of the sequels after “Judgement Day” need to exist considering that the story was wrapped up perfectly in the second entry.
Yet, “Terminator: Dark Fate” manages to succeed where others failed by focusing on different characters, instead of rehashing Sarah Connor and John Connor for the umpteenth time.
It’s not perfect, and it’s definitely not going to surpass the excellence of the first two, but “Dark Fate” is the chance for the series to find its footing and do something different for a change.