The Terminator franchise really should have died after the second film. Not because they could never top “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (even though they haven’t yet), but because they haven’t can’t come up with anything new and end up redoing the same things again and again, only getting worse with each entry.
If you’ve seen or even heard of a Terminator film, you can guess the plot and most of the twists – in the future, mankind is fighting a war against an A.I. that became self-aware, who sends an unstoppable killing machine back to our time to kill an important member of the human resistance, while mankind sends someone else back to protect this important person from the Terminator. That idea hasn’t changed at all since the first film, only a new person, a young Mexican woman, Dani (Natalia Reyes), and her protector Grace (Mackenzie Davis). And despite the inclusion of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) to give her hardened, unwelcomed advice, she offers nothing to the plot, nor does she offer any real fan service and comes across as a forced, useless character, much like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s part in the movie as a old T-800 who joins their fight.
Everything about “Terminator: Dark Fate” feels forced and repetitive, like they had to use the same plot points of saving the messiah or a good Terminator or else the movie wouldn’t work. Even though we have a new protagonist, she has the exact same message about the how the future isn’t written in stone that John Connor had. For a film franchise so fascinated with the future, it really has been stuck in the past since 1991. There are endless possibilities with a self-aware A.I. sending machines back into the past, like sending one back to protect a founding member of the A.I. while the humans send someone to kill him, but producers are so focused on the one idea of killing one person to stop the future that it has officially lost its luster.
Anything that could have been new or original about “Terminator: Dark Fate” is left vague or unexplored. Despite having all three main characters be female, it never does anything with that. They attempt to get Dani from Mexico City to America, and yet there are little to no comments about immigration and any scenes of Dani leaving her family behind are pushed aside when you realize her family is already dead. What could have been a better concept to explore was what the T-800 did after it fulfilled its purpose, but instead that’s summarized in a couple lines about “adopting” a family that has no clue that he’s a robot. Even the comedy is uninspired and lackluster, most of the jokes being so predictable or cringe worthy that it makes me wonder why they tried to be funny in the first place.
“Terminator: Dark Fate” is not worth anyone’s time or money. It is a sad attempt to cash in on nostalgia and shows that the franchise hasn’t changed in nearly thirty years and certainly hasn’t improved either. It is predictable, boring and even questionable at times with decisions regarding the T-800’s inclusion and the Terminator hunting down these women. Save yourself the effort and just watch “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” again – despite what “Dark Fate” tried to do, that film is a timeless sci-fi action masterpiece.
Final Grade: D