'Terminator: Dark Fate' finally gives us a worthy movie in the franchise after years of duds


Terminator Dark Fate 2 Paramount

  • The “Terminator” franchise finally has a winner with “Terminator: Dark Fate.”
  • Years of underwhelming sequels have been scrapped from the canon and “Dark Fate” takes place after the events of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”
  • There’s lots of action, strong fight sequences, and top-notch acting — especially from Linda Hamilton, who returns as Sarah Connor.
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After James Cameron’s “The Terminator” in 1984 — which is regarded as a landmark work in science fiction as well as special effects, and put Arnold Schwarzenegger on the path to super stardom — there have been four sequels. And let’s face it, they’ve been awful. Except for one.

Cameron’s sequel to “The Terminator,” 1991’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” wasn’t just a worthy continuation of the story of an unstoppable killing machine from the future, but also stands as one of the best sequels ever made.

Read more: 18 major Oscar contender movies you shouldn’t miss in theaters

So with that history, the powers that be decided, while developing the most recent “Terminator” movie, to pretend that “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” “Terminator Salvation,” and (I get chills even writing the title) “Terminator Genisys” never existed. It was time to clean the slate and start fresh … from “T2.”

And “Terminator: Dark Fate” (in theaters November 1) is the redo the franchise needed.

The movie takes place in a world that never had to deal with Skynet, the company that created the artificial intelligence that birthed the Terminator and wiped out humanity. That reality was made possible by the events of “Judgment Day.” So in this world, the takeover by the machines never happened — well, by the T-800s anyway.

Turns out other machines rose instead.

Terminator Dark Fate 4 Paramount PicturesIn “Dark Fate,” Legion is the company that created an artificial intelligence that kills off most of the human race. And these machines, known as Rev-9, are pretty nasty. They have a skeleton base like a Terminator but then there’s a liquid surface on top of that which can split off and create its own form. So you are basically always battling two things when confronted by a Rev-9.

In the movie, a Rev-9 (played by Gabriel Luna) comes from the future to present day Mexico City to terminate Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), who is a very important person in the future. To protect Dani, a half human/half cyborg named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) is sent from the future. She also gets a little help from Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), who has been on the hunt for signs of the apocalypse for decades.

How Schwarzenegger’s Terminator plays into all of this get us into spoiler territory, so let’s just say, yes, he’s definitely a major part of the movie.

“Dark Fate” is directed by Tim Miller (“Deadpool”), who oversees some great action sequences and — unlike the previous sequels we no longer speak of — doesn’t get bogged down in “Terminator” history or time travel.

Mackenzie Davis (“Halt and Catch Fire,” “Black Mirror,” “Blade Runner 2049,” “Tully”) continues to evolve as an actress, this time showing that she can play a great action hero.

Terminator Dark Fate Linda Hamilton ParamountBut it’s Linda Hamilton who is the true star of the movie. Like her last time in the franchise, “Judgment Day,” she brings a ferocity to the screen that is fun and exciting to watch.

Also back for the first time since “Judgment Day” is James Cameron, who has a producer credit. It takes a small village to make any movie, but do not for a second think Cameron wasn’t heavily involved in making sure the franchise he created would have a strong rebound.

It’s also a big rebound for Paramount, the studio releasing “Dark Fate.” After the disappointing returns on “Gemini Man,” it should be a more profitable situation with this movie, as “Terminator” fans are salivating for a good movie to come their way.


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