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Grace-ing Our Future Past⁠: A Review Of 'Terminator: Dark Fate'

‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ may not be perfect, but it’s a worthy successor to the 1984 ‘Terminator’ and 1991’s ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’

Bringing back James Cameron as producer and co-writer, plus handing the directorial chores to Tim Miller of Deadpool fame, may be the shots in the arm that the Terminator film franchise desperately needed. Let’s be honest, after the original 1984 film and the glorious Terminator 2: Judgment Day of 1991, the three films that ensued are best left forgotten. Here then is the 6th official installment, Dark Fate, the true successor to T2, highlighted by a grand reunion of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton is back!) and the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger).

And before you start rolling your eyes wondering what these seniors (Linda is 63 and Arnold is 72) are doing in an action film franchise, know that while they manage to hold their own, the story of Dark Fate is rightfully dominated by a new set of young characters, who provide much of what we loved about the first two Terminator films: gripping action sequences coupled with emotion, heart, and genuine sympathy for the characters, whether they be human or otherwise.

Other reviews may break down the plot of this new entry, but I think I’ll leave you to your voyage of discovery. It may be convoluted at times or strain plausibility, but the storyline richly pays homage to the first two, and does it best in replicating the beats of those installments, while tweaking things enough to give this outing a fresh veneer of Sci-Fi magic.

What do I mean by this "replicating the beats" business? Well, the target of the new Terminator that arrives from the future is a young Mexican girl, Dani (Natalia Reyes), and she’s basically a new young version of Sarah Conner. The vastly improved, more deadly Terminator, the Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) is your Robert Patrick character, while the other visitor from the future, Grace (the really wonderful Mackenzie Davis), is your Michael Biehn character mixed with Arnold of T2.

Hamilton and Schwarzenegger do get enmeshed in the action but they’re also like guardian angels, providing the emotional connection to those first two films. Arnold even provides what little grim humor this film has⁠—watch out for his droll delivery about his character’s sense of humor. Priceless!

Hamilton is the "Robert Redford" of this film, her 63 years visibly etched on her time-ravaged visage. There’s no anti-aging, heavy makeup or beautification going on here, and it helps provide her character with the much-needed gravitas as the thread running through the three films. We last saw Mackenzie in Tully, where she was the funky dream figure the Charlize Theron character dreamed up to save her disintegrating psyche and marriage. Here as Grace, Mackenzie is an "enhanced," still part human but improved, and she’s great, holding our attention in every scene she’s involved in.

You know how Star Wars 7 couldn’t decide on whether it was a nostalgia trip or a solid introduction of the new characters? Thankfully, Dark Fate doesn’t take the schizo-route, and knows where to lay its bets, and that's on the new cast of characters.

It may not be a perfect film and certainly not one to make us forget T2, but Dark Fate is a solid companion piece to the first two films. And after the bitter disappointment of the other entries to the franchise since 1991, that’s already saying a lot. Dark Fate is the official resurrection of the film franchise, and Terminator fans will be happy to hear that.

Photos from IMDb