Terminator: Dark Fate – Review

Worth seeing: for a return to James Cameron's Terminator universe, with a nostalgic twist on a Hispanic reworking of the classic time-bending existential sci-fi of T2
Director:Tim Miller
Featuring:Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Luna, Linda Hamilton, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Diego Boneta, Edward Furlong, Enrique Arce, Tom Hopper
Length:128 minutes
Released:23rd October 2019


We start in Mexico, 22 years after tragedy befalls Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), after all she’s been through to save three billion people by defeating the evil Cyberdyne corporation – and its ruthless Terminator killing machines.

In the new future, which replaced the one she was trying to prevent, a new organisation is similarly trying to destroy humanity by sending Terminators back to the past to wipe out the younger versions of people who could stand in its way.

Its latest target is Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), a lowly factory worker, who hasn’t yet come close to achieving her potential.

But while a new model terminator (Gabriel Luna) was sent back to try to eliminate her, the future humans sent back a technologically improved human soldier, Grace (Mackenzie Davis) to protect her and ensure her survival.

Nearly three decades after John Connor sent a T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back to protect his younger self from an attack from a T-1000 model, a similar battle is playing out, with an alternative future in the balance.


It’s 35 years since James Cameron introduced us to the Terminator saga and 28 years since he put it to rest with the critically and commercially successful sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

There’ve been three further films in the intervening decades, but Cameron – with his producer hat on – has cast those aside and returned to the original storyline for this latest instalment.

Reuniting Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the stars of the first two films, he adds a handful of new characters and delivers what’s essentially a pared-back re-run of T2: good cyborg sent back to protect future hero from evil Terminator to ensure the survival of the human race.

Nearly three decades later, the villain bears a remarkable resemblance to Robert Patrick’s T-1000, from his ability to mimic his victims to his capacity to liquify himself to ensure his own survival – even his gait has a familiar swing to it. There is one technical twist that brings him into the 21st Century, but there’s something a little uninteresting about a villain who lacks charisma and who’s so indestructible as to render any efforts to defeat him pointless – until the film-makers are ready to start winding things up.

There are knowing nods to the earlier films in the franchise, but such classic lines as “Come with me if you want to live,” and even “I’ll be back,” are tweaked rather than borrowed wholesale, both ending up lacking in gravitas and humour.

The action sequences are as well choreographed and efficiently executed as you’d expect, but the old-timers are always more interesting than the newer characters at the heart of the story, which – similarly – reduces the effectiveness of the drama.

Having Cameron back on board delivers a consistency of purpose and narrative that many fans of the earlier films felt was missing from the interim instalments, and the visual style is as impressive as the plot is workmanlike.

Perhaps the most engaging scene – from both the technical and the narrative point of view – is the opening sequence that sets up what is to come; it probably would have made a more interesting film to find out more about that.

Dark Fate is, in effect, a Hispanic re-run of T2, with some ageing action stars thrown in for nostalgia’s sake – but T2 isn’t the first block-buster to be reworked for a new demographic and what’s the harm in keeping the old demographic interested by retaining the highlights in the background?

It’s a cynical, unnecessary return to James Cameron’s classic dystopia – but no less entertaining for it.

There’s much to enjoy but little to admire.

It’s no classic, but it’s unlikely that this franchise will be terminating any time soon.