Given how lame Rise, Salvation and Genesys turned out, Terminator head honcho James Cameron gets the band back together to produce for Deadpool director Tim Miller’s re-boot, which, in these times of safe sequels is a do-over of Judgement Day. A watchable, more than competent, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin do-ver, but that’s pretty much it.
That said, the ladies are very much in the driving seat. Linda Hamilton makes a comeback as iconic Sarah Connor, craggier and tougher than all Sly’s Expendables put together. Natalia Reyes holds up as Dani Ramos, mother of the future resistance, while Mackenzie Davies (Blade Runner, The Martian) is the lithe, enhanced super-soldier Grace. Arnie Schwarzenegger does his best deadpan comedy as a simpatico T101 relic of the future-past. Gabriel Luna steps into Robert Patrick’s shoes as the invincible shape-shifting double antagonist Rev-9 and does well to hold the screen as the single-minded killing machine. This one comes in matt black.
Otherwise, apart from some name changes, this is a business-as-usual re-doux of T2. Highway chase? Check. truck versus cars? Check. Helicopter smashes? Check. Finale punch up in a factory – OK, had that in act one, substitute hydro-electric power station – check. Plenty of guns, bullets, explosions, nasty Rev-9 killings, repeated Rev-9 take downs with increasingly large calibre weapons? Check. Arnie getting battered to metallic scrap? Check.
David Goyer (with Justin Rhodes and Billy Ray) script reduced to standard Cameron dialogue of gruff cliches? Check. Nonsensical, timey-wimey, change-the-past-to-save-the-future (again) plot? Check. Wildly over-the-top action set-pieces? Check, check, check. Cameron has never shied from lifting wholesale from other movies (Avatar-slash-Dances with Smurfs; Titanic-slash-A Night to Remember), so why not lift from his own back catalogue? If this review reads like a laminated, wipe-clean, pre-punched recipe card, that’s because the movie plays like a laminated, wipe-clean, pre-punched recipe card.
Passing social commentary on the plight of illegal migrants to the US? Surprisingly, check. Ooh, something new; oh, it’s gone again.
If you want proof that Hollywood has well and truly eaten itself after thirty years, then Dark Fate and Rise of Skywalker give you that. Dark Fate is literally a Terminator’s Greatest Hits, gatefold vinyl, comeback tour with grey hairs and some nifty VFX that almost give you that liquid-metal-shapeshift-shiver that you had decades ago before morphing software let you do it on your iPhone.
This isn’t just any high-quality, big-budget fluff and nonsense, this is James Cameron high-quality, big-budget fluff and nonsense. RC
Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
R (for violence throughout, language and brief nudity)
Genre: Action, Science Fiction
Director: Tim Miller
Writers: David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes, Billy Ray
Running time: 128 minutes
Cast: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta