Movie Review: Terminator – Dark Fate (2019)

Terminator: Dark Fate (dir. Tim Miller, 2019) – A newly modified Terminator hunts down Dani Ramos, whose survival may just depend on a cyborg from the future and a familiar saviour.


Warning: Spoilers.

Should Genisys have been the final nail in the coffin, fans would have revelled. But that would only be gravely underestimating the resilience of the T-800, who has over and again promised us otherwise. And so The Terminator is back once more in Dark Fate, which wisely ignores the subpar Rise of the Machines, mildly entertaining Salvation, and the unwatchable Genisys.

For a while, the supposed threequel looks promising. James Cameron’s best works will finally get their due proper end… Or so we were led to believe. Instead, T1 and T2 proved to be for naught as the Terminator succeeds in killing off John Connor, right in the very first act. Easily. Without so much as a scuffle. Just like that, the arduous journey of Sarah and Kyle Reese comes to mean nothing in this new, altered timeline.

The Terminator
“Are we jokes to you?”

John Connor is gone, but the war resumes. Stepping into the role of the hunted is Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), with killer machine Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) hot on her heels. The future grants Dani a protector in the name of Grace (MacKenzie Davies), an augmented human with the heart of Kyle Reese and the mission-driven mind of T-800.

Essentially, this Terminator sequel almost qualifies as a reboot, following the formula to a T with added diversity. All would have been a striking deja vu, if not for a hardened Sarah Connor weathered by the passage of time. T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) also makes a return in opposite fashion, having settled down as a rehabilitated family man in the drapes business.

Cue an awkward explanation of his reform that fortunately comes to an end, thanks to the relentless Rev-9. Explosive chases continue, their aversion to the laws of physics making Michael Bay proud.

Terminator: Dark Fate
Robot wars.

It is not all action from here. Between set pieces, the script attempts depth by sneaking in a feminist thesis during their downtime from the hunt. Sarah instantly misunderstands Dani’s purpose, assuming that she is not the saviour of mankind, but his bearer. She continues her lament that it is her womb that is valued, not her self. It is only much later that Grace shoots her misguided theory down, revealing Dani as a future heroine who becomes her own.

The take is not just painfully on the nose, but invalidates Sarah Connor’s character arc over the first two Terminator films. It ignores the powerful implication that Sarah, not John, eventually does become the true heroine who stops Judgement Day. The Resistance is her legacy; her son is but an heir.

Terminator: Dark Fate
Today’s weather: Explosive, with a chance of debris.

In contrast, Dani never earns her character’s growth. Instead, she is handed her origins story in a plate of exposition and overly familiar flash-forwards. Her one heroic moment only comes at long last, when she gets to take a stand against the metal shape shifter. She manages to take down the indestructible model… only with the help of T-800. Of course.

Jumping at his chance for redemption, the Terminator atones for his programmed sins and makes good on his promise to never return again… Not that it matters. As film history has shown, and if James Cameron wills it, the future is very malleable indeed.

A sixth Terminator film is as unnecessary as it sounds to what is originally a strong two-parter, which deserved none of its subsequent comebacks.

15 thoughts on “Movie Review: Terminator – Dark Fate (2019)”

  1. You raise some very good points on this one, Jade! I had fun, but we definitely didn’t need this, and don’t really want another one. But, give me Mackenzie Davis in other big-budget action movies, please. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, Daniel. I have a bad feeling that there will be another soon, whether we like it or not. Haha! And about MacKenzie Davis, I do hope she’ll get to lead her own proper franchise someday. She’d make a cool heroine!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hate to hear this isn’t very good. I have looked forward to it and the last Rambo but my fear about both was that they had already reached their peak and would just be mediocre at best. Everything I’ve read about both tells me my fears have materialized. Thanks for the review, I’ll wait until it’s hits Amazon or Netflix. Even paying $3.99 for it is better than the $100 tab it usually cost to take my tribe out to a movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry for missing out on this comment for some reason. I thought I’d reply a few months late anyway. 😂 The last Rambo movie was such a letdown. There are just so few multi-part franchises that remain entertaining. I can only think of the Mission Impossible and Bond movies!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No apology necessary, I’m surprised you are able to reply to so many. The last Rambo was basically what I thought it would be, action was decent but the plot so dumb it was laughable. And that ending, I still don’t get it, I guess they were letting the audience decide what happens next and really ends it. A big let down for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.