New from Al and Linda Lerner on Movies and Shakers: Terminator: Dark Fate

Arnold’s baa-ack and so is Linda Hamilton. Only she gets to deliver that line this time. Women rule in this latest installment of the Terminator, bringing back some of the charismatic power of the first two in the series. Dark Fate ignores what happened in the sequels in between, which is a good thing. Deadpool director, Tim Miller, gets to do extreme action sequences again. James Cameron returns to this latest Terminator as  Producer, is one of the writers, and successfully begged his ex-wife, Linda Hamilton, to reprise her role as Sarah Connor.

Connor changed the future two decades ago. In this one, Hamilton looks the worse for wear, but is stronger than ever. Her hard look and piercing stare are a constant. And she seems to be at the right place at the right time to fight hard for the other gals on her watch. Cool as a cucumber as she does it.

This film messes with the time line, bouncing back and forth between the past, present and the future. Sarah and a mechanically-enhanced human warrior, Grace (Mackenzie Davis) have to fight the super scary and highly advanced Terminator -Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna). He’s out to get the new girl in town, Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), who may be the key to saving humanity. It takes awhile to figure out why Dani is the target of his wrath, but once we do, it’s the same old, same old shape shifting of black ooze Terminator that can’t be killed.Destruction rules with car crashes and explosions one after the other.

T-800 Terminator, aka. Arnold, now Carl, gets involved in trying to help the ladies, even though Sarah wants no part of him because she still smarts from being wronged by him in the past. What’s different now is that with the passage of  time, and living among humans, Carl, has learned what empathy is. 

Grace looks like a pixie with big blue eyes but she’s no one to mess with. Every time you think she’s down for the count, she rises like a phoenix once again. She’s tough, but has all her human emotions. Grace is brought back in time to save Dani and the future and fights pretty damn hard to do it. Dani is cute and spunky finds her strength. Most satisfying is their relationship. Grace is Dani’s protector.

What’s so unsatisfying in Director Tim Miller’s execution of this script is that the continuous series of impossible and implausible situations. He uses heavy special effects to get our players out of imminent death. It’s just done to create a spectacle. For example, when two military planes collide in mid air, sending our heroes in a Humvee by parachute ending up submerged at the base of a dam, is that Humvee really airtight? We know, it’s all for chills and thrills. But situations like this occur time after time in this film just for effect and don’t help progress the story at all. 

There are some attempts at humor, mostly from Hamilton and Schwarzenegger which are much appreciated to lighten things up once in awhile. Davis and Reyes as Grace and Dani are good new characters who mesh together well. Original Terminator fans will find a way to like this, despite the obvious shortcomings. What is unusual is the unexpected role reversal. Hamilton is the snarky one and Schwarzenegger is more likable. Female power is the name of the game. There’s a possibility there may be more sequels, so based on this film, “I’ll be back”….maybe. But maybe this should be the last stop for the Terminator.

Paramount Pictures        2 hours and 8 minutes          R

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