Terminator: Dark Fate (Review)

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⭐⭐⭐ (Good)

Director: Tim Miller 
Starring: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta 
Certificate: 15
Run Time: 128 mins

Terminator: Dark Fate is the latest in the series, whose sequels have never managed to replicate the spark the first two James Cameron directed entries. After both Terminator Salvation and Terminator: Genisys sadly failed to ignite a new trilogy, Dark Fate is the latest attempt. Dark Fate unquestionably has a lot more promise in that this film reunites Linda Hamilton with the series and James Cameron also has more creative input, taking a producer credit. The film is directed by Tim Miller, who found success with Deadpool but creative differences meant he didn’t return for the sequel. It’s an interesting project for him to pick as he doesn’t seem like a natural fit and I had big problems with the first Deadpool tonally. With plans for Dark Fate to spark another new trilogy, will this film finally fulfil this promise after two failed attempts or will this film represent yet another nail in the coffin for this franchise?

Although rather generic in parts and with a shaky opening, Terminator: Dark Fate is often very entertaining and even elegiac in parts in how it melds the old and new. Miller makes a bold decision in the film’s opening which has polarised viewers but I thought it worked. There are some gritty action sequences – the first car chase is particularly good and demonstrates Miller’s visual effects heavy background. The other action sequences are all exciting but one does have to suspend disbelief as there are a couple of distracting breaking the laws of physics, which does lower the emotional investment in the characters a little. The film does feel a little like a soft reboot in its narrative, very much in the vein of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Halloween. That said, much like the latter, it works as the new characters the film introduces, especially Natalia Reyes’ Dani Ramos are sympathetic and well-developed. The film is visually interesting and is shot by Ken Seng, who also shot Deadpool. It’s a shame Junkie XL’s score isn’t particularly memorable, especially considering how strong a career he has had so it’s rare for him not to have a hit.

The performances are all great, with Linda Hamilton giving a heartfelt performance in her long-awaited return. Natalia Reyes is great as Dani Ramos, a young Mexican woman who a Terminator is sent after and I think she could easily go on to lead future films. Surprisingly, Arnold Schwarzenegger is also excellent as his signature role with an interesting spin on the character which really works. Mackenzie Davis plays an enhanced soldier sent back to protect Ramos and she fares well here too and although not reaching the heights of previous villains, Gabriel Luna as the Rev9 is good.

Overall, Terminator: Dark Fate is much better than expected and at its height, is very entertaining. The film is bolstered by its strong performances and Miller has markedly matured as a filmmaker. I hope we see more of this franchise but reviews seem to be mixed and despite being in the minority, I thought both Salvation and Genisys were good fun too. Dark Fate is definitely a step-above from Genisys and is also probably better than Rise of the Machines. The question remains though whether audiences have had enough of this franchise or are willing to give it another chance.

⭐⭐⭐ (Good)

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