Published Oct 30, 2019How many Terminator movies have there been? I dare you to answer that question without checking. For all anyone cares, there have only been two — which is why Terminator: Dark Fate ignores most of the sequels, and instead acts as a direct followup to Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Just to make sure it hits home, the film's tagline is "Welcome to the day after judgement day."
The film is set in the present day — a timeline in which the AI apocalypse has been avoided, but a young John Connor has been killed as a preteen. His mom Sarah (Linda Hamilton) is now an embittered Terminator hunter, who springs into action when a technologically advanced Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) warps to Mexico City with the intention of killing Dani (Natalia Reyes), a young woman of critical importance in a future war against technology. Meanwhile, a mechanically enhanced superhuman named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) warps in as Dani's protector.
It's a perfectly serviceable plot, albeit with one slightly convoluted time travel plot hole. But who really cares, since it's all in service of some fantastic action sequences and a charismatic cast with compelling chemistry. Davis has previously played geeky, understated roles in The Martian and Black Mirror, but here she transforms into a badass action star — a worthy successor to Hamilton, who is also wonderfully rough and rugged. And even though Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 character doesn't appear until the second half, he draws scene-stealing laughs with his hilarious deadpan delivery. His boring drapery business is hysterical.
Dark Fate doesn't offer surprises, but it recaptures the magic of T2 with its white-knuckle action sequences. Basically the whole film is a game of cat and mouse with the Rev-9, and the jaw-dropping freeway chase scene in particular is strongly reminiscent of Judgement Day.
Similar to 2015's Jurassic World, this is a satisfying piece of revisionist history that redeems a once-great franchise after its dismal sequels. After this redemptive film, Terminator execs are probably thinking: I'll be back.