Terminator Dark Fate
Cast: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna
Director: Tim Miller
While T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) are huffing and puffing in order to tackle an advanced terminator, there’s a fair chance of audiences thinking: Why do they even keep coming back? With every film in the franchise, they are getting even more distant from the original thrill machines and core philosophy.
Not that Schwarzenegger hasn’t come back in the past. He was there in Terminator: Rise of the Machines, Terminator: Salvation and Terminator: Genisys. All these films were mostly fan service and Schwarzenegger didn’t venture beyond his famous dialogue: I’ll be back.
Now, after all these years of The Terminator (1984), even that legendary dialogue seems to be losing sheen. Even if Schwarzenegger hasn’t done much to let it happen, these films definitely have. Dark Fate is no different. What looked unbelievable thinking by Skynet in the early 1980s is the most basic concept for every Hollywood sci-fi films now.
What made The Terminator such an impactful film was the novel idea of machines turning against the humanity by developing a raw conscience. It was stimulating to imagine a world with humans controlling artificial intelligence (AI) for all the practical purposes. The game has completely changed since then.
With films like Ex Machina and Bladerunner 2049, the AI-themed storylines have undergone massive changes. The directors are adding new dimensions to humanoids so much so that projecting an actor’s face on a robot seems the most natural thing to do. We now believe that they need a face.
On the action front, Transformers films have set a tough-to-beat template. There are many other similar films too. So, it's neither idea nor action for Terminator-like films. In such a situation, can Schwarzenegger’s enigma be the only hook? Irony is that he didn’t even get to mouth his career-defining dialogue!
It begins in Mexico, which should now be declared as Hollywood’s most favoured origin spot for all sorts of stories, where half human-half robot Grace (Mackenzie Davis) is trying her best to save Dani (Natalia Reyes) from Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna). This also serves as Hamilton’s entry point, whose affinity for guns and violence hasn’t gone down a bit in all these years.
In a way, Dark Fate is her follow-up story and a pat on back for remaining the most badass woman around. She, with slow-motion shots and relatively better understanding of the milieu, tries to take control but it all scatters the moment T-800 and Rev-9 decide to give aerial stunts a try. Though director Tim Miller (Deadpool) tries to infuse some humour but it’s too late by then. Everybody knows where this is heading except the machines. Well, they’re machines after all!
Despite maverick filmmaker James Cameron (the director of The Terminator and The Terminator-Judgment Day) on board as writer and producer, Dark Fate relies only on set-pieces. The script never goes beyond the obvious.
The Terminator-Dark Fate is a lame throwback to the simpler times with a false promise of a better future. These terminators need immediate upgrade. Maybe Michael Bay can help.
(Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha)