Terminator: Dark Fate
Starring Natalia Reyes, Mackenzie Davis and Linda Hamilton
Terminator: Dark Fate is a compelling, visceral thriller marred by severe unoriginality.
The plot has solid character development and balances internal and external conflict well: as Dani (Natalia Reyes) and her allies struggle against the deadly robot assassin hunting them, Dani grows more confident and accepts her destiny as resistance leader in the dire future ahead of them.
Mackenzie Davis is extremely versatile as Grace, Dani’s cybernetically-augmented protector, conveying bravado, vulnerability and incredible prowess in the action sequences, and has fun adversarial chemistry with Linda Hamilton as veteran Terminator hunter Sarah Connor. Arnold Schwarzenegger provides deadpan levity and some touching moments as a Terminator who grew a sense of compassion.
After several tame sequels, Dark Fate reinstates the bleak atmosphere and brutal intensity of the first two Terminator films, but retreads them extremely closely, down to individual plot beats and set-pieces.
Dark Fate attempts an intriguing meta-textual layer, with Sarah and the Arnie Terminator coming to terms with the dark future they know while helping Dani and Grace prepare for a new apocalypse. However, little has changed in any practical sense, as a homicidal AI (Legion, instead of Skynet) is still sending robot assassins back in time; as such, the film’s emphasis on passing on the torch for a changed future feels flimsy.
Terminator: Dark Fate has engaging performances and brutal thrills, but a very derivative plot structure and a hollow attempt to rework the Terminator mythos.