27th Oct2019

‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Mackenzie Davis, Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Luna, Natalia Reyes, Tom Hopper, Brett Azar, Diego Boneta, Tábata Cerez, Steven Cree, Pete Ploszek | Written by David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes, Billy Ray | Directed by Tim Miller

terminator-df-poster

Although the best in the franchise since Terminator 2: Judgment Day, this is clearly a dying franchise trying to take one last gasp before it fades away.

Even with the return of Linda Hamilton and James Cameron, Terminator: Dark Fate can’t seem to find its place in the Terminator franchise. It’s a movie we were told would be the third film in Cameron’s trilogy, telling us to ignore all the sequels that followed T2. It’s the promise of something better, the promise of a return to form and to capture the magic the first two films had. After the film is over, there is a horrible bitter taste, and much like the Alien franchise it seems that the magic they captured in their original sequels can’t be conjured up again.

This time we follow the story of Dani Ramos, a young girl living in Mexico who quickly has her world thrown into chaos when a newly modified, liquid terminator is sent from the future to kill her. We are thrown straight into the world of Terminator: Dark Fate, at a speed that never drops or falters. It’s a pace that many action films struggle to maintain, letting the quiet moments feel misplaced or slow the film down in the wrong way. It’s here that the editing by Julian Clarke stands as one of the films few highlights. Clarke makes sure we never feel lost in any of the action sequences as many other action films make you feel. It allows the characters to have great moments and some amazing set pieces, never allowing us to get bored and never changing the pace.

The performances are also all good, and something that’s felt missing from previous instalments. The previous films lacked any characters that were interesting or even acted well. This film, however, isn’t like the rest – with Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes as the films highlights. Linda Hamilton also gives a good performance, but it’s the two newcomers that are the films core. Mackenzie Davis is a breakthrough and an incredible star that could helm her own action franchise. It’s a rebirth and redirected career path for this talented actress, reminding me of Emily Blunts turn in Edge of Tomorrow, showing her as not only a fine actress but as a true action star.

Terminator: Dark Fate‘s biggest downfall, however, is the story itself and the script that was written for it. There is an overwhelming feeling of disappointment when the film comes to an end. There was a promise of this being the final film in James Cameron’s trilogy, yet the story seems forced and unnatural. There’s no flow to the structure of this so-called trilogy. It doesn’t feel like a conclusion, in fact it feels like the beginning of its own trilogy.

This film also ends up becoming predictable and by the books in terms of story, offering nothing new or creative. It’s here the film starts to fail and fall short of what it could have been and what it was promised to be. We start asking questions and pick the film apart by every little detail, something we never did with the first two. We start asking how things are possible or why characters make certain choices, we find plot holes and cringe worthy product placement. It starts to take you out of the world and all the good editing, action and performances can’t save it. In the end the strong performances and action are enough for you to have some fun here, but the films story structure and bad script lets it down.

It’s these bad qualities that you unfortunately come out thinking about, with some moments that make you want to laugh, and not in a good way. It’s a bitter taste, and that’s the biggest disappointment. Terminator: Dark Fate only leaves you asking if there was any point in making another film at all.

** 2/5

Terminator: Dark Fate is in cinemas now.

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