This lightning review of Terminator: Dark Fate will contain spoilers.
I lost hope in the Terminator series quite some time ago. The last project that was even remotely enjoyable was the Sarah Connor Chronicles which came out over ten years ago. The films that succeeded Terminator 2: Judgement Day…not so much.
When I learned along with everyone else that there was to be yet another film I groaned and asked myself why they couldn’t just let this horse die in peace. They assured us that James Cameron would be ‘involved’ with this project unlike the others and that raised an eyebrow, unfortunately, Cameron doesn’t seem to be the Cameron of old, if his championing of Terminator: Genisys is anything to go by. So this assurance no longer had the weight it might once have.
Terminator: Dark Fate, unfortunately, is pretty much what I though it would be. An unnecessary and quite damaging entry in a long line of poor Terminator sequels.
So Long John
Anyone under any illusions that John Connor would be a major part of this film needs to shed them now.
Tell me if you’ve heard this one: A Terminator in beach wear walks up and shoots John Connor while he is ordering drinks at a bar while Sarah Connor sits there wearing her T2 outfit looking constipated. It sounds like a bad joke, but it is all quite real. That’s about the extent of John Connor’s involvement.
If you find this to be a rather undignified way to wipe out the savior of mankind don’t worry they aren’t quite finished yet stomping on the franchises iconic elements. There are more to come.
This film replaces John Connor with a Mexican female named Dani as the new savior of mankind. She’s brown and she’s female as opposed to white, male and stale as the communist identitarians like to say. Nineteen minutes into the film me not caring one wig about any of these new characters tells me that may not have been the brightest move in the world.
I couldn’t help noticing the similarities to Terminator 2 as we’re are introduced to Daniella “Dani” Ramos and the two competing time travelers. This feels like an early mistake (certainly not the last) as the comparison does not favor the newer film. Where the tension with the first could be cut with a knife, in this film the initial confrontation feels super rushed and far less impactful as a result.
Thanks For Nothing Sis, The Death of Diego
There’s a scene, an infamous scene in Man of Steel where Jonathan Kent dies during a tornado. It’s an infamous scene because there was no reason for Kent to die in that situation, it was completely avoidable and was only done because it was convenient for the script to do so. It is, and should remain, a beacon of bad writing that should not be duplicated.
Some folks do not learn from the past I suppose.
This film has such a moment, this time, with Dani’s brother Diego.
So let me get this straight….Diego is stuck in the truck impaled by a rebar. The only reason the Terminator is there is to kill the girl. He is not interested in anyone else unless they get in his way. If they want to keep him [Diego] out of danger the smartest thing they can do is get as far away from the brother as quickly as possible with the hope that he [The Terminator] won’t come back and try to ‘kill and mimic’ him in order to obtain Dani. If they leave the brother, forcing the Terminator to chase after them then Diego at least has a chance, especially, if he gets into the hands of medics before the Terminator returns (assuming he ever returns).
But what do these ying-yangs do? They wait in front of the truck that the trapped Diego is in while the Terminator speeds towards them in a car and wait until the last minute to move out of the way causing him to smash into the truck holding Diego, killing him.
Garbage tier writing.
The car crash didn’t even slow the Terminator down, Diego died for nothing. Well, he died because they needed him to die and their solution for this was piss poor.
“Well, you’re not an augmented super-soldier from the future, are you?”
Poor Sarah Connor.
It’s sucks that she found herself teamed up with this Grace creature. It was almost as if they were deliberately trying to make the Grace character unlikable. If they were, they succeeded. I know I couldn’t stand her.
Several times in this film the character threatens Sarah Connor with violence. After Sarah saves their butts and Grace awakes from being unconscious she tells Sarah “I will f*ck you up.” and that she could “Rip out her throat”. While on top of a train while attempting to illegally enter the United States from Mexico she exclaims how she wants to ‘beat the sh*t out of her’.
This hostility, this personal enmity towards a smaller older woman seems bizarre at first glance. Where is this coming from, you might ask? Who doesn’t like Sarah Connor? Then you see some of the names on the screenplay and David S. Goyer stands out right away. Goyer, hack writer du jour. He knows it, and we know it. More importantly, he knows that we know.
This hatchet-man, this creative dead-end will never in a million years produce a character as beloved as Sarah Connor, not if his life depended on it. I bet that burns him up inside. I bet he wishes he could smash the character out of existence.
This slug used Grace to work out his issues and it showed.
There’s also a spectacularly lame moment where they show Grace (in vaunted cheesy slo-mo) cut a fly in half…for…reasons. My eyes rolled. In fact, I haven’t rolled my eyes this many times at a movie in a long time.
Is it horrible that I cheered when I learned that Grace was going to die? Perhaps, but cheer I most certainly did, I only wished it happened and hour and 30 minutes earlier.
“I Do Drapes”
Arnold doesn’t show up until almost a half-hour is left in the film. ‘Carl’ the Terminator dad is probably the silliest things I’ve seen in some time. The Terminator that killed john ‘grew’ a conscience and sought out to become more ‘human’. He garnered an adoptive family and runs a drapery business.
Because of what he did (blow her son away) he would send Sarah coordinates to where Terminators would show up so she could kill them. Probably the most outlandish part of this entire film was when he said that the relationship with his wife was not ‘physical’. These people must be living in the twilight zone if they expect us to believe that a woman is going to marry a big strapping dude, let him adopt and raise her son and she isn’t going to desire some happy touch time? Get the heck out of here.
“You are not the mother of some man who saves the future, you are the future.”
I almost lost my lunch at this line. With the androgynous Grace uttering these lines whilst on her knees prostrate before the glorious female minority Dani. You just know she did everything in her power not to say “you are not the mother of some cis-gendered white male who saves the future” instead. Now we can see why her feminist rage almost overtook her when Sarah suggested Dani was the mother of the person who would save mankind.
How dare she assume the gender of the savior of mankind!
At the end of the day the film just feels…procedural. There is nothing that sets it above or even equal to the first two movies, or films like The Lord of The Rings, or even Deadpool for that matter. Tim Miller’s solution to making his movie stand apart is simply to add more. More spectacle. More cussing. More Terminator. More CGI. You can tell that the concept of less is more has never crossed his cerebrum, and likely never will.
But it’s not just the ‘serviceable’ directing and uninspired actions scenes, it’s the plot that not only killed this movie but likely those that preceded it.
As Sarah went on to explain who she was to the newcomers it was if the writers didn’t seem to understand that by killing John they invalidated everything she did. Saving John meant nothing. After all, he didn’t actually do anything before he was killed. He didn’t start a resistance, he didn’t even grow facial hair, the only thing he accomplished was staying on the run with this mother. At the end they couldn’t even do that. Much like Luke Skywalker, another legendary male bites the dust to make way for his ‘betters’.
Killing John and simply having someone else move in to be the person to save mankind annihilates the entire point of the previous films. This message will no doubt be cheered by the those who would like to see men go the way of the dodo bird, especially white men. “You see?” They sneer with delighted contempt. “We don’t need you, we never did.”
Say Something Nice
The best parts of the film are those that strictly involve Sarah and Arnold’s Terminator, but this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Many of us have a soft spot in our hearts for these two iconic characters. Arnold still has great timing when it comes to one-liners, regardless of the quality and Linda Hamilton’s crotchety Sarah Connor is still endearing, foul mouth not withstanding.
The rest…sadly, no mas. I’m afraid there is just no ‘there’ there with the rest of the bunch.
Gabriel Luna’s Terminator was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. He seems like a pretty decent actor and I probably would dig him in other roles. It occurred to me near the end when this Terminator tried to convince the others to ‘walk away’ that there was a missed opportunity that could’ve perhaps made this film far more interesting by having the Terminator approach the situation in a drastically different manner. Instead of chasing after Dani like a crazed lunatic he approaches her ‘removal’ in a far, far subtler way.
But alas, what we get is mister stabby leaping about like a CGI hooligan.
Which reminds of the other things that didn’t help the character or the film. Which were the ‘upgrades’ to this Terminator. Frankly, they felt extraordinarily contrived. As if the only reason they existed was because the people making the film were desperate for a way to make this new Terminator ‘interesting’ as opposed to stale. Which, is a sign you probably shouldn’t be telling another Terminator story in the first place.
When you do things like that, make a villain far more advanced and powerful than previous villains you need to balance that out or you paint yourself into a logic box. From what I’ve seen the humans in this new future wouldn’t have survived long enough to be able to ‘augment’ one another. They would have been wiped out a long time ago.
As for the new savior of mankind?
Dani’s eye-rolling ‘Kung-Fu’ introduction in the ‘future’ does not make me optimistic about the future of this franchise, much less mankind. As far as I’m concerned this isn’t canon.
There are only two Terminator films.
Only two. But given what has followed…maybe, so help me, just maybe, there should have only ever been the one.
2.5 out of 5 stars
The killing of John and his replacement with a minority woman could definitely be seen as a political or social statement. There is no doubt there are many on the left who will take it as such and cheer it on. The director has made feminist statements himself so this is not outside the bounds of reason.
- Grace beats up policeman in the beginning and a Mexican couple cheer her on for it
- At one point the Dani character says: “I wish you two weren’t so white”
- The Grace character has an androgynous look to her – one could argue that she looks this way because she is a soldier. One could argue she looks that was because they want to appeal to non-binary audience members.
Terminator: Dark Fate directed by Tim Miller opens in theaters in the United States November 1st.