sat 02/07/2022

Terminator: Dark Fate review – look who's back | reviews, news & interviews

Terminator: Dark Fate review – look who's back

Terminator: Dark Fate review – look who's back

Linda Hamilton returns to the sci-fi franchise that just isn't the same without her

Natalia Reyes, Mackenzie Davis and Linda Hamilton in 'Terminator: Dark Fate'

Sentient machines have taken over the Earth. The leader of the human rebellion is so effective that a robotic ‘terminator’ is sent back in time to ensure he’s never born. A guardian follows, to ensure he is. We’ve been here before. 

Even in the unadventurous, market-driven world of sequels, it’s remarkable just how stuck theTerminator films have been in their template, with the same basic premise, the same character dynamics, the same action sequences predicated on the relentlessness of the robot assassins, the same bewildering timeline.  

However, not all of them have had Sarah Connor, made iconic by the actress Linda Hamilton in much the same way as Sigourney Weaver’s Alien-bashing Lieutenant Ripley. The best Terminators, James Cameron’s original one-two, were centred on Connor, first as she fought to survive, then as she found a way of averting Armageddon in the first place (or so she thought). Without Hamilton, the following three films were fit only for scrap metal. 

So the good news with Dark Fate is that Sarah Connor returns – now grey and growly, extremely bitter but just as kick-ass fantastic. She even appropriates Arnold Schwarzenegger’s immortal line, “I’ll be back”, and totally owns it.

What’s more, Hamilton is joined by two other actresses, forming a sparky triumvirate you care about, who take the franchise into more satisfying female territory than “the mother of the man who saves the future.”

In Mexico, unsuspecting factory worker Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) is the new target for the kind of chameleon, liquid-metal terminator that was so frighteningly effective in Terminator 2. Also dropping naked from the future comes Grace, a “human with augmentations”, charged with protecting her (Mackenzie Davis of Black Mirror/San Junipero fame, nailing her atypical action role). When they encounter Sarah during a bruising terminator tussle on a freeway – it seems Connor’s never stopped being on the look-out for passing robots – they join forces and cross the border into Texas, where they find extra muscle in the form of, you’ve guessed it, Schwarzenegger. 

Arnie is great comic value, playing a stranded and reformed terminator with a human family and a new business, Carl’s Draperies no less. But his presence takes us to the bad news, which is that beyond its dominant female presence, and one accompanying plot twist, it’s the same film as always. The beats are the same; the script is still like Swiss cheese; the action, though often exciting, becomes repetitive and dramatically redundant, given that the machine won’t stop and we need the stars until the end. 

Cameron himself also returns, as producer, which may explain the virtues but doesn’t excuse the fact that this plays like an amalgam of his earlier work. If the terminator doesn’t kill you, déjà vu just might. 

The good news with Dark Fate is that Sarah Connor returns – now grey and growly, extremely bitter but just as kick-ass fantastic


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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