Much of “Terminator: Dark Fate” seems like a reset – or an apology – following all of the incarnations after “Terminator 2.”
Since James Cameron wasn’t a part of those installments, he was able to use this one (where he serves as producer) to right the ship. Almost immediately, we get one of those flashbacks that erases plenty and gives us a look at a younger Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and the event that colored her future.
Flash forward 22 years and we discover a new target, a factory worker named Dani (Natalia Reyes) who is being hunted by a souped-up terminator known as Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna). He doesn’t have the same flaws as earlier editions and is almost impossible to kill. Luckily, an augmented human named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) has been sent to help her survive. For good measure, Connor returns, too.
Directed by Tim Miller (the man behind “Deadpool”), “Dark Fate” has so many similar battles it’s frequently exhausting. Chase sequence after chase sequence just delays the obvious and doesn’t really make this the “women power” exercise it should.
After they exhaust their hiding places, the three head to the obvious – the Terminator’s home. Now passing as a drapery expert named Carl, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s robot is decidedly older and more settled. He still has fight in him but isn’t quite up to the challenge an upgrade poses.
The gang then does some pretty outrageous things, grabs all sorts of transportation and stages a showdown at a dam. There are chopper sequences, Humvee moments and an underwater segment that looks like it should have been in another film.
There are Sarah Connor/Terminator encounters, too, and an awful lot of questionable moves that, probably, will be explained in future editions.
Why Dani, her brother and her father are the chosen ones is never explained. She’s just along for the ride while Connor gets to spout “I’ll be back” and kindle old T2 memories. Hamilton’s character looks older but still has the spunk that made her a good sparring partner.
Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, seems like the poster boy for AARP. There’s a flag waving in the back of one of his scenes and a bucolic setting that suggests even robots wind up on Medicare. He has a family as well (don’t ask) and a sense of duty that fits in nicely with this battle to the finish.
Still, Miller doesn’t indicate if there are more Rev-9s waiting in the wings or a major battle that will “Mad Max” the planet. But he does get good work out of Davis, who deserves to say, “I’ll be back.”
Because so many years have passed since “T2,” this requires too much thinking to remember what exactly is at play. The story isn’t all that complex. But the mere idea that we’re putting other “Terminator” projects in the Recycle Bin is a just a little hard to compute.