Totally down with putting the fate of mankind in the hands of womankind in the “Terminator” franchise.
Giving your movie some immigration debate relevance, a little election debate currency in a workplace where machines are taking away jobs? Savvy.
It’s great to see Linda Hamilton as bacon screen as Sarah again. And turning Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 killing machine into a cuddly, white-bearded savior? Alrighty then.
But the sequel built on those components, “Terminator: Dark Fate” turns into the most ridiculous, recycled and repetitive film of the franchise. Two tedious hours covering ground we’ve been over and over and OVER again in these damned films, with digital parkour chases and digital MMA/anything goes brawls and just enough “improvements” in the effects to suggest this isn’t the exact same movie we’ve seen several times before.
The molten metal morphing version of this latest mechanical killer from the future (Gabriel Luna) is black, and not chromium. So yeah, drop what you’re doing because, wow, this is um, different.
Tim Miller of “Deadpool” directed the film, and it staggers, straight out of the gate. We’re treated to a the fate of John Connor (Edward Furlong, digitized) and his mom Sarah, their best efforts to head off “Judgement Day” of 1998 be damned.
“I stopped it,” Sarah narrates. “Saved three billion lives. You’re welcome.” As if.
Human extinction at the hands of Skynet was foiled. But something else went wrong. Time-travel spheres from the future are popping up in Mexico City, depositing their travelers as naked as ever.
One of them is this new and improved hunter-killer (Luna). Another sphere drops the swan-necked/model-thin blonde “super-soldier from the future” Grace (Mackenzie Davis), here to foil the Rev-9, as the new machine is called.
This time, the woman to be protected is a bilingual Mexican auto worker, Danielle (Natalia Reyes). She’s barely made it to the auto plant where she works when it’s under assault. And Grace is there with this not-the-least-bit-pithy one-liner.
“Come with me or you’re dead in the next 30 seconds.”
Two big-name screenwriters (and a third dude) and this was their best shot?
“Dark Fate” eventually lets Grace tell us who she is, an “augmented” Six Million Dollar woman from the future. She’s here to save Dani from a machine she can’t stop.
Fortunately, Sarah Connor is still roaming the Southwest, north and south of the border, packing heat. Hamilton, who still can carry off “bad ass,” but whose acting seems soap opera rusty in the early scenes, gets a real “star entrance” here, arriving with a deadpan sneer and a bang.
“I’ll be back.”
Now Dani’s got two protectors. And it’s just not enough.
Miller lets his film settle for big, dumb digital brawls — half a dozen of them, each more dizzying than the last — over character development. The picture grasps for tepid Arnold jokes about Texas, explanations about how his machine ended up with a family (not how he aged), and generic, half-assed Schwarzenegger gun fetishizing, a feature of the weightlifter’s action movies since the ’80s.
It all plays as points on a sliding scale of ridiculousness.
Davis and Luna are OK in the effects fights, but lack the charisma of Hamilton at her best and Robert Patrick’s Aryan-eyed menace as the molten chromium terminator upgrade.
Reyes, still newish to English language acting, is uninspiring playing a character who makes little sense, logically or chronologically.
And that leaves the picture to the AARP couple, who can’t bring anything new to their relationship, their rivalry or the banter.
What, no “Come mitt me iff you vant to liff?”
I had high hopes for this. The trailers really play up the sentimental tug of bringing Hamilton back on the payroll.
But damn, “Dark Fate” is dull.
MPAA Rating: R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity |
Cast: Linda Hamilton, MacKenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gabriel Luna
Credits: Directed by Tim Miller, script by David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes. Billy Ray. A Paramount/Fox release.
Running time: 2:08