It's judgement day for the day after judgement day as Marc Nash watched Terminator Dark Fate (with some spoilers)...
So we arrive at the sixth in the Terminator franchise and there’s little new to be had under the sun. That’s not to say there’s nothing to enjoy here, but it’s not going to hold any surprises for you and is that enough really? I mean, you’re probably better off rewatching the original and best, rather than a hollow version of it as here.
But it does have its merits. Three kick-ass women characters, Sarah Connor (played once again thank god by Linda Hamilton, although she is sporting a slightly ridiculous semi-bouffant hairstyle); Dani Ramos the new John Connor future leader of the resistance, since the actual John Connor is for once successfully terminated at the start of the film by Arnie’s terminator; and Grace, an augmented human with Terminator speed and strength who has been sent back to protect Dani. The Terminator they’re up against has the liquid metal regenerative powers of Terminator 2, but a neat line in splitting into two fully functioning Terminators.
He’s a terminator sent back not by Skynet, because Skynet was defeated by Sarah Connor to the extent it never existed. No, he’s been sent by an AI network called Legion, because we humans just can’t help ourselves can we? It’s a cybernet-based system that preyed on our ravenous appetite for living life online and the film makes some nice points about our self-surveillance society where we constantly betray our locations through cell phone and other geo-tracking, the comprehensive mesh of CCTV and the like. This is how the terminator is forever able to catch up to its target, even though Sarah Connor keeps her phone inside a sealed crisps packet because its foil lining blocks the signal (apparently). Mind you, if we humans are so lazy as to live our lives online without taking precautions, so are the terminators; same old plan as the other 5, go back in time to kill the mother of the future, although there’s a bit of a twist on this.
And finally Arnie’s back, as promised by his predecessors and, presumably, a hole in his bank balance. He still gets all the best lines and having killed this incarnation of John Connor, Sarah Connor is pretty pissed to see him and Hamilton throws him a fine array of evils and dagger looks. Their banter is pretty nifty too. The action scenes make for good viewing, even if most of them rely on improbable physics where the human body and aeroplanes are concerned. The climax battle scene across a dam is pretty impressive and perhaps improbably reminded me of the final shoot out scene in the Mexican village by “The Magnificent Seven”.
But that’s all you can say about it really, because it’s a bit same old same old, just with different-but-the-same setpiece action scenes. We get a few student stoner musings on fate, which really should have been established by the mind-bending paradoxes of time travel by this, the sixth movie, but sadly not. It’s good that the human heroine comes from Mexico, so that the film alludes to Trumpian border politics and our heroes travel on the beast of a freight train on which many migrants make the dangerous journey trying to get across into the US. But we’re not really looking at Terminator films for political critiques beyond “untrammelled reliance on tech leaves us vulnerable to takeover”, are we? This movie is probably superior to movies 3-5 in the series and I did like the point that it was a new threat in the guise of Legion rather than Skynet, because this scenario will inevitably happen since the human race keeps making the same mistakes over and over again. Just like James Cameron is overseeing the production of the same Terminator movies over and over again. If Arnie and Linda can channel their movie magic skills of being immortal, then this franchise will no doubt continue long after you and me dear reader are in their graves. As to what the point would be, I’m uncertain. Besides, we all know the only immortal involved here is James Cameron himself.
Marc Nash is on Twitter as @21stCscribe.
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Images - IMDb