Terminator ditches its history, only to basically repeat it.
I love the Terminator franchise, even the widely-reviled Genisys and Terminator 3. I like the mash-up of sci-fi elements (time travel, killer robots, apocalypse) with modern-day elements. I love the "Die Hard"-esque formula of everyday people thrown into fights for their lives against impossible odds to save the world. Dark Fate is pretty much just more of the same, but it's still fun. Tossing out the events of T3, Salvation and Genisys, it picks up the story where T2 left off.
The familiar players are all here. We've got the Hunted - Dani (Natalia Reyes), an auto worker in Mexico City who will be somehow important in the future. We've got the Protector - Grace (Mackenzie Davis), who kicks some serious butt as an "augmented super-soldier from the future" capable of going toe-to-toe with Terminators for short periods of time. And, continuing the trope from T3 and Genesys, we've got the Good Terminator. Played by Arnold, of course, he comes out of his ex-Terminator retirement to help the gang out.
The best part of the movie is the return of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, the iconic heroine. It's been two decades since T2, but she still perfectly captures the determined, somewhat-unhinged badass with the weight of the future on her shoulders. "Why do you care what happens to her?" Grace asks, after Sarah turns up to help save Dani. "Because I was her, and it sucks," Sarah deadpans.
Having three kick-butt ladies on screen saving each other is a rare treat, and it's refreshing that they all contribute in equal measure. Arnold gets his moments, of course, but not at the expense of the others.
The action set pieces are impressive, from the brutal opening fight in the auto factory to an insane sequence on a crashing plane. There are even some cool glimpses of the future war, with the Terminators rampaging in all their glory.
The plot is nowhere near as tight as T2, though, with a few pretty gaping plot holes and ridiculous contrivances. The new Bad Terminator (Diego Luna) has some pretty nifty tech tricks (like being able to split in two), but falls flat as a villain compared to the original T1 Arnold or T2's Robert Patrick.
My biggest quibble is the way the movie tosses out the core of the Terminator series' mythology. The franchise has always been about Skynet, John Connor, and the Terminators. Now we have a different killer AI (Legion) that causes a new Judgment Day with a different resistance and a different future leader... I know it's time travel and all, but it just felt a little lame and completely unnecessary. But overall, it was still a pretty enjoyable action film.
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