Terminator: Dark Fate

Rating:

EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

Main Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton

Director: Tim Miller

I must apologize to all of my loyal readers for my silence over the past few weeks.  When I last communicated with all of you, I had just made an exciting announcement about a nifty little contest for all of the loyal subscribers to my new streaming service, VickiTube.  Along with Mr. Frank, the brilliant stage director, I let my viewers choose a property for adaptation into a live musical presentation.  The overwhelming favorite, sent in by a whopping seventeen separate viewers, was The Towering Inferno.  As the corporate offices and studios for VickiTube are co-located with my luxurious home here at Condo Maine, high atop the Nakatomi Plaza building, Mr. Frank immediately began to see the possibilities of a true cinema verité shoot with practical fire effects rather than relying on CGI or some old red and orange gels and a continuous loop of a Yule Log video in the background.  Before I knew what was happening a whole flood of workers were laying pipe for gas lines for flame jets all over the dining room, the grand staircase, and even my boudoir.

dance shoes pixabay
Perhaps I should have chosen a different shoe…

I began rehearsing my big second act number (It’s Flaming on Promenade Room Night) which included a difficult stair tap routine.  I was in the middle of executing a triple time step on the landing of the grand stair in my entrance hall when my toe tap struck a spark when I inadvertently brought my right foot a little too near one of the new gas lines.  The resulting conflagration took out part of the third floor, all of the electronic cabling from the studio, and the roof broadcast antenna leaving VickiTube without a signal these past few weeks and me without Wi-Fi or proper streaming services.  The result has been a curtailment of my usual film watching habits and a need to focus my energies on some rather unexpected home repairs.  A word of caution to all of my fellow producers.  I would avoid hiring Biedermann’s pyrotechnics for your projects.  The quality of their work is somewhat questionable.

Anyway, the major repairs have been completed, I am getting back to my more normal patterns of living, and I even managed to receive my Covid vaccine in the mix.  Apparently, I was eligible based on age which I found odd as I am always and eternally thirty-nine.  Servpro had just finished steam cleaning the smoke of the velvet and upholstery and drapes in the home theater earlier this morning so I mixed up a pitcher of sangria and headed into it to enjoy a film.  My chaise was a little damp, but nothing that an afghan placed tenderly over the seat couldn’t lessen.  I looked through my ‘To View’ pile on top of the Blu-Ray player and found a copy of the most recent entry in The Terminator series, Terminator: Dark Fate which I had missed during its brief run in theaters in 2019.  I do enjoy a good sci-fi action thriller and was thrilled to see that, after nearly thirty years, original stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton were reunited.  They had to do something as the last few entries in the franchise:  Terminator: Salvation and Terminator: Genisys were both rather dreary bores. 

Terminator: Dark Fate reboots the franchise by going back to shortly after the events of Terminator II: Judgment Day and through a feat of technical wizardry, recreating the young Linda Hamilton as Sara Connor, Edward Furlong as John Connor, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the T-800.  There is a pivotal encounter, a tragedy, and we embark on a different timeline as if the other sequels had never existed.  Fast forward to today and modern Mexico City when the familiar lighting and naked people arriving from the future happens once again.  The transport device seems to have devolved in its aiming abilities over the decades as it has the future visitors materialize in midair with long falls to the ground rather than neatly on the pavement.  The first arrival is Grace (Mackenzie Davis), a future soldier – human but with bionic enhancements – who is charged with seeking out and protecting Dani (Natalia Reyes), a young Mexican woman who works with her brother (Diego Boneta) in a local automobile assembly plant.  We find out that Dani is strong and feisty, protective of her family, but has nothing in her background to suggest that she is of any particular significance.  The next arrival is a new model of Terminator, the Rev 9 (Gabriel Luna).  This variety is particularly deadly as it can separate itself from its mechanical exoskeleton and the liquid polymer outside can adjust itself to be deadly with or without the inner nuts and bolts allowing it to become two deadly enemies when convenient.  (The laws of mechanics and physics aren’t particularly important in the Terminator universe). 

Both Grace and the Rev 9 track Dani to her job leading to mayhem in the auto plant, narrow escapes, further mayhem on a freeway where, when all seems lost, the older Sara Connor (Linda Hamilton now a bad ass older woman) appears in the nick of time to save the day.  Sara, Grace, and Dani team up to solve the mystery of why Sara knew to be there which has something to do with Grace’s mysterious tattoo (which made me think of the old trope of the blushing young maiden with the tattoo to the gold mine on her back that was a stock image in late 19th century melodrama).  When they get where they are going, after an extended sequence involving the border control that comes off a more of a political commentary than I think the film makers intended, they find an aging T-800 (Schwarzenegger) who has spent the intervening years learning to be human (and apparently having his flesh coating age at the same rate as normal human tissue).   He joins the women as they are determined to stop the Rev-9 and the story of who Dani is and why she is important comes to light.

Terminator: Dark Fate is a feminist flip of the Terminator mythos.  The three central characters are all strong women, one older and two younger, who use their instincts for cooperation and teamwork to successfully carry out their mission. There is no lone wolf man hero/anti-hero.  The principle male characters are plot devices.  Schwarzenegger’s aging T-800 is some sort of comment on the limits of technology and his adaptation of more human mannerisms takes all the menace out and he comes across mainly as a vapid Dad Bod guy who seems somewhat bemused by the glory days of his youth.  The Rev-9 is just a machine.  Dani’s brother exists mainly to give us a little comic relief in the first act. 

I can see why Terminator: Dark Fate was not very popular with fanboys with its unconscious emasculation of the T-800 and all of the power being transferred to women.  Frankly, I found it refreshing.  It’s not often that there’s an action film with female protagonists that just is.  Usually attention is drawn to their gender in uncomfortable ways to play up the stereotypes.  Here, they just happen to be women in a fight for their lives and against malignant power.  Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes are both fine in their parts and convincing as young women of strength and conviction but it’s Linda Hamilton who is a revelation.  Ms. Hamilton left acting twenty some years ago and therefore, having been out of the public eye, has seen no need to nip and tuck and curl and coif her way to looking like a caricature of her former self.  This Sara Conner is beaten and weathered and appropriately aged, but she’s tough as nails and elicits a cheer every time she delivers a quip or dispatches a bad ‘un.  She’s the true Terminator in the film.  Schwarzenegger is… Schwarzenegger.  That’s neither good nor bad.  It just is.

I ended up enjoying Terminator: Dark Fate a great deal more than I should.  The opening scene which sends the plot off on a different timeline is a little hard to watch for fans of the original films (and that plus the feminist slant likely doomed the film at the box office once word of mouth got out).  But if you’re willing to go with it, it’s competently made (Tim Miller of Deadpool fame at the helm), full of exciting action sequences, and gives us one more chance to visit with Linda Hamilton before she goes back to whatever life she’s been living far away from the limelight for the last few decades. 

Hole in bridge. Falling through laundry.  Auto polishing robot.  Forgotten lunch. Multiple falls from high levels. Gratuitous immigration detainment facility. Humvee drop. Cheap motel. Drapery service van. Terminator converted to Turbinator.

Catch Up With Mrs. Norman Maine:

Mission Impossible (1996) ~ The Old Dark House ~ Dressed to Kill

To learn more about Mrs. Norman Maine, see our Movie Rewind introduction.

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