Terminator: Dark Fate… Don’t Come Back

Well it happened, I watched the new Terminator film. I love the original The Terminator. It’s a beautiful blending of sci-fi, horror, action and even a bit of a love story. It’s mega-successful sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a flick I have lot of issues with… outside of Americans not being able to spell the word judgement correctly. The plot holes are ridiculous, it’s writing is inane and it’s basically an insult to the first film… but it’s a pretty decent action romp none the less. Then we get onto the other sequels and they range from average to pretty damn bad at best.

For me, there is only one Terminator film and that’s the first one. Yet I have still sat through all of the other films in the franchise… so may as well endure the sixth and latest film in the franchise, Terminator: Dark Fate. I said after watching the last film, Terminator: Genesis (I’m not spelling it ‘that’ way), that I was done with this franchise, it’s just been downhill since 1984. But Terminator: Dark Fate is currently being called the best sequel since T2, so it has to be good right? Due to the high praise the film has been getting, I just had to check it out.

Right off the bat here, I’m going to warn on massive and gargantuan SPOILERS. I am going to go through the plot and story of the film as well as looking at characters that will give away major plot points, even in the opening. So again, there will be major SPOILERS from this point onward.

The Film

So the flick opens with a nice reminder of one of the better scenes in T2, showing the scene from the film where Sarah Connor is being interviewed and kind of flips out as no one believes her about the future war and the rise of the machines.

Sarah Interview

It then cuts to a future war scene as several terminators emerge from the sea while Sarah delivers a narration about a hopeless future before cutting back to 1998 where Sarah and John are enjoying some sun on a beach in Guatemala. Sarah’s narration continues as she explains that the future of the machines talking over, Skynet and all that never happened because she stopped it. You know, all that blowing up Cyberdyne from T2 and the death of Miles Dyson and all that gubbins. As she sits in a bar looking over John, a T-800 casually walks in and kills John Connor, dead. Couple of shotgun blasts and the future leader of the resistance that will stop Skynet is dead. The main focus of the entire plot of the first two films is dead. It’s not even been four minutes into the film yet (three fifty for those counting) and John Connor is dead… I have more to say about this later but for now, on with the rest of the film.

Sarah laments over the death of John with a tacky line about how she is ‘terminated’ and it then cuts to present day as the arrival of the new protector and main character of the film is shown, Grace, played by… Justin Bieber. Seriously, when I first saw Grace (Mackenzie Davis) in this, I thought the new protector character in the film was played by Justin Bieber, so from now on, it’s Justin Bieber. Anyway, so Justin Bieber has been sent from the future in typical Terminator franchise fashion… naked. But John Connor is dead, so who has she been sent back to protect? There’s a scene where Justin beats the crap out of some Mexican police, cos the film is set in Mexico. Justin steals some clothes and off she goes in search of her target.

Dark Fate Grace

We are then introduced to the new target, Dani Ramos who lives with her family in a crappy little apartment. After some asinine character introductions, we then meet this film’s antagonist and all new terminator, the Rev-9 (basically the T-1000, again), who arrives at Dani’s home seconds after she leaves for work. So Rev-9 sets about looking for Dani, kills and mimics her father and goes after his target. Dani works at a car factory and this is where the first big showdown happens as both the Rev-9 (disguised as Dani’s father) and Justin Bieber turn up to kill and protect Dani respectively.  We get to see what Justin Bieber is made of, she’s human but with ‘enhancements’. You remember The Bionic Woman? Well she’s a bit like that. After a small fight sequence, the main chase of the film begins.

So anyway, Justin, Dani and her brother make a run for it with Rev-9 in pursuit. You know the main car chase scenes from the trailer? Well this is that part. Cars get smashed up as Justin Bieber tells Dani that she is from the future and here to protect her. Rev-9 disables their car and kills Dani’s brother… and this is where Sarah Connor shows up proper, you’ve already seen it in the trailer anyway where she turns up armed to the teeth and shooting an RPG at Rev-9. So Justin and Dani make a run for it by stealing Sarah’s car and leave her to fight off the T-1000, Sorry Rev-9 for herself.

Dark Fate Sarah

As Justin Bieber and Dani are running away, Justin beings to show signs of a struggle and is in a bad way. She has enchanted speed and strength, but at the cost of becoming ‘fatigued’ I guess. Justin is in need of medical attention, so Dani takes her to a local chemist for some drugs. Sarah tracks them down as Justin Bieber passes out. Sarah takes them to a motel to rest up. When Justin regains consciousness, more of the plot (what little there is) is revealed as Sarah learns that Skynet no longer exists and never actually did. It turns out that Justin Bieber is from an alternate future created after the events of T2. Instead of Skynet, there is Legion… basically Skynet. Legion is still a highly advanced AI, it still starts a war between man and machine, there is still a judgement day of sorts, just not one at the hands of Skynet. As I said, Legion is basically Skynet just with a different name. So it turns out that Dani is this film’s 1984 Sarah Connor who will go on to give birth to the future leader the resistance against Legion. So the plot of this film is the plot of The Terminator with a slight name change or two.

Sarah says how after John was killed, she started getting encrypted messages. Justin Bieber decrypts the messages and it just so happens to turn out that the messages are being sent from the very same location of some coordinates that had been tattooed onto Justin’s body just days before she was went back in time… what an incredibly lucky coincidence. So the trio of ladies decide to head to the location the messages have been sent from in Texas. Sneaking over the Mexico-United States border, they finally arrive at the source of the messages, the very same (now aged) T-800 that killed John in the opening. Cutting a very boring story as short as I can, the T-800 agrees to help train Dani to fight Rev-9. I’m just going to skip to the end here…

Dark Fate Heros.png

So Justin Bieber, Sarah, Dani and old T-800 team up and fight the Rev-9 at Hoover Dam. En-route, it is revealed that Dani in the future actually found and raised Justin Bieber when she was younger during the war. It turns out that Dani is not this film’s Sarah at all, she is this film ‘s John Connor. It is Dani who will rise to lead the resistance against Legion… what a pointless twist. After a plane crash and landing at the dam, there’s another fight sequence and both Justin and the T-800 end up sacrificing themselves to save Dani and kill Rev-9. Sarah becomes surrogate mother to the future leader of the resistance (female John). End credits and teases a sequel I hope never happens.

Now the plot is is of the way, I’m just going to take a look at the characters…

Rev-9

So this new evil terminator is basically a cross between the T-800 and T-1000. It has an endoskeleton like the T-800, but instead of the living tissue, it has the liquid metal of the T-1000 and can mimic who and whatever it touches. It can also split itself into two and work independently. It can operate as the endoskeleton as well as making a human form as the liquid metal. To be honest, I kind of liked this idea and you see it used a few times in the film too. But as a character, it’s just all a bit dull. Despite it’s interesting splitting into two thing… it’s just a T-1000 and we’ve already seen it. Gabriel Luna who plays Rev-9 is no Robert Patrick. He’s not scary, not intimidating and never really felt like a threat. I have multiple problems with Terminator 2, but Robert Patrick as the T-1000 was not one of them. This Rev-9 is just boring.

Dani

Ah yes, this film’s Sarah/John Connor. Thinking back to the first film, you get to see Sarah grow as a character. She starts off as this timid waitress who ‘can’t even balance her checkbook’. Yet through the course of the film, we see her grow into the strong woman she becomes at the end and through T2. You don’t get any of that with Dani here, she is one note from start to end. There is no evolution of character, no depth of character. She’s a insipid, annoying girl at the start and she stays just like that right up to the finale.

Justin Bieber

I’m sorry, but I have to keep making these comparisons. Kyle in the first film was a tough and grizzled soldier from the future. He was a bad ass, but he also had a softer side and came across as very vulnerable too. Justin here is a flat line. There is nothing here, no character. And what is the point of making her ‘enhanced’ if she keeps breaking down as in need of drugs? They were (I think) going for a human/machine hybrid in an attempt to show how, despite a deadly war between human and machines, that they can coexist and live in harmony. Instead of this faux and vomit-enduing symbolism, I’d have preferred that they just went with either a human protector or a machine… and a character with some actual character too.

Sarah Connor

Far and away, the best thing about this film is Linda Hamilton back as Sarah Connor. She’s bitter, tough and yet still very likeable… even when she is being a complete bitch. She even has a scene where she breaks down talking to Dani about John… and Linda is sublime in it. Linda’s acting is brilliant. She has the best lines (mostly), the best scenes and more than holds her own during the action scenes too. Utterly brilliant to the point where I kind of wish Sarah was the only main character of the film. Drop the dreadful Dani and the insufferable Justin Bieber, just have the film focus on Sarah and her hatred/distrust of the machines and this could’ve been great. In fact, it would’ve been so much better of they hadn’t killed off John… more on this soon…

T-800

I’ve saved the worst for last. I love the first film and I think that the T-800 is one of cinema’s greatest villains. I really disliked how they made him good for T2… really disliked. Over the years, I held out hope we would see an evil T-800 again in one of the sequels. The closest we got was Arnie’s ‘cameo’ in Terminator: Salvation and his de-ageing bit in Terminator: Genesis (don’t care, I’m not spelling it like a six year old). Sadly, looks like we’ll never see that evil T-800 again. The small glimpse we get in the opening where he kills John is about as close as we will get. I never liked how they made him the good guy in the sequels… but this film? This film just outright takes the piss.

So the T-800 in this, after killing John developed a conscious, he felt ‘guilt’ (I guess) over his actions. He met a woman and got married, became a stepfather to his wife’s son. They live together, have a dog and everything. The T-800 also has a name, Carl. You do remember the T-800 from the first film right? This is how the franchise creator once described the T-800…

“It’s death rendered in steel.”

–  James Cameron

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. But now? Now Carl as he is called is a soft furnishings expert… I’m not joking. The T-800 hangs curtains (drapes for my American readers) for a living. There is a part in the film where Carl advises Dani on the best curtains to hang and how to do it… again, I’m not joking. From smashing through into a police station and massacring people…

Dark Fate T800 T1

To hanging curtains, this is the T-800 now. He’s married, has a kid and a dog… who doesn’t bark, which fans will now is a big no, no! Honestly, this is perhaps the biggest betrayal of the character ever. A huge FU to the fans. But to be honest, us fans should’ve seen this coming, I mean it was foretold in the first film with Kyle Reese’s famous line…

“Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, unless it decides to hang up some curtains.”

– Kyle Reese

Oh no, my mistake. That didn’t happen did it cos it’s fucking stupid. Have you heard what they are doing with Michael Myers in the Halloween reboot sequel? He’s going to work at a veterinary clinic to look after fluffy bunnies and cute puppies. He’s not because the writers of that film are not stupid. Oh and the Halloween reboot is getting a sequel (two even) which this film won’t.

The Plot Holes

This film had six writers covering the story and screenplay (one of them supposedly James Cameron himself)… six and none of them any good. Even the other sequels didn’t have to pay this many people to write something so god awful bad.

Writers

Seriously, six people had a hand in writing this mess? I could’ve done a better job and you wouldn’t have had to pay me six times either. The one is full of plot holes before it ever really begins.

So if a T-800 killed John at the start, then Skynet wins. But because of the events in T2 what with destroying Cyberdyne, Skynet does not exist. Fine… so who sent the T-800 to kill John in the opening then if Skynet does not exist? No Skynet, no T-800 terminators. Sarah says in this film that the future of Skynet taking over didn’t happen…

Why would Skynet send a T-800 back to kill John anyway when it has the much more advanced T-1000?

If this film takes place in an alternate timeline where John and Skynet do not exist, then why would Sarah be involved at all? The first two films were about protecting John. First unborn in The Terminator and then years later when he was ten years old in T2. But if there is no more John, then Sarah has no reason to be involved in this film’s events at all. As much as I loved Sarah in this film (she is easily the best thing)… she is completely redundant too.

Rev-9 arrives in the past during the day and he arrives right outside Dani’s apartment too. Traditionally through the franchise, the terminators arrive at night (Justin Bieber does), so if Rev-9 had arrived at night (as is the tradition) Dani would’ve been asleep in bed and he could have killed her within seconds. So why did Legion send Rev-9 back in time to arrive during the day?

The film points out that Sarah has been hunting and killing other terminators sent back in time over the years (sent by who or what I don’t know, Legion I guess) single-handed. How? These machines are very hard to destroy as shown in all the films, but Sarah has been able to get rid of them on her own? Yeah she’s armed as this film shows, but it also shows her struggling to even make a major dent in Rev-9. Even Justin Bieber says you don’t fight these things, you run away… and she’s enhanced remember. Sarah even admits later in the film the taking out a terminator alone is virtually impossible… but that’s what she has been doing for the last twenty odd years. So an enhanced super soldier can’t stop a terminator, but a 60 year old normal woman can?

The very second Sarah see the T-800 in this, she instantly knows it’s the same one that killed John… how? Sarah knows there are multiple T-800s from her own experiences. The killer one form the first film and the protector from T2. As she has been killing other terminators over the years, there’s a chance she crossed paths with others too. Yet the second she sees the T-800 in this, she just knows it’s the exact same make and model that killed John back in 1998? No questions are asked. For all Sarah knew, it could’ve been another good T-800 sent back to protect.

How has the T-800/Carl in this managed to get married and settle down when the authorities have his face on file from the previous two films? You know, the T-800 image was caught when he stormed the police station and again in T2 at the shopping mall. He’s a wanted ‘man’ being hunted for mass murder, but he can get a marriage license, house, set up a curtain hanging business, etc and not raise any suspicion? Did the police just forget about this mass murderer?

How can his wife not notice she is married to a machine? This is kind of covered in the film when Carl explains their relationship is not physical. So they don’t to the mattress-mambo or anything, but they must at least hug, a goodnight kiss? Something, they must have had some kind of physical contact in the twenty plus years they have been together. Not once has his wife ever hugged her husband, tried to playfully lift him. Not once in over two decades has she noticed her husband doesn’t sleep, use the toilet or ever get ill… never?

Overall

This film is awful. I have problems with T2 as a film, but I’m willing to admit that it’s still an entertaining flick. This is dull, it’s boring. Even the action sequences are nothing more than mediocre. The plot is basically T2 with a pinch of the first film thrown in. The characters are asinine and unlike-able (except for Sarah). People are describing this film as the Star Wars: The Force Awakens of the Terminator franchise. I agree, as it’s just as bad. It’s also being called the best sequel since T2… by idiots. Either that or people paid by the production studio to try and gain some favourable reviews. Again, six people were involved in the writing. How and why does it take six people to say “let’s rehash T2 and a bit of the first film.”?

What was the point of killing off John in the opening if all you are going to do is replace him with another character exactly the same? If the filmmakers really wanted to change things up… then change things up. Same goes for getting rid of Skynet only to replace it with Legion, which is Skynet just with a different name. Legion does the exact same thing Skynet did. It’s utterly pointless. It you are going to change something, then change it.

On the subject of killing John. Apparently that was James Cameron’s idea. Well I’m here to call him out on his hypocrisy, because ole James was one of the most vocal on the killing of Newt and Hicks in Alien 3, in fact he said that idea was dumb. So let me see if I have this right Mr Cameron. Killing off secondary characters like Newt and Hicks, who, in the grand scheme, are not intrigal to the plot was dumb… but killing off a central and important character, the main focus of the entire franchise like John Connor is a good idea? Making Kyle Reese’s reason for existing as a character and his sacrifice to go to the past utterly redundant, that’s a good thing is it Jimmy?

Linda Hamilton has said of the opening to this film that it will shock people. No Linda it won’t. What it will do is piss off millions and millions of fans of the franchise all over the world. You won’t get shock, what you will get is a collective “fuck you!” and continual eye rolling. John Connor is the cornerstone of the entire franchise, kill off John, you have no film(s)… as Dark Fate proves. The death of John means that everything before this film was pointless. Remember Kyle’s sacrifice of volunteering to go back in time to (his words) “meet the legend” that is Sarah Connor. The fact he knew it was a one way trip, the fact Kyle ended up falling in love and creating the saviour of the world? Nothing, it means nothing due to the plot of this flick. All that emotion, all that bravery from Kyle is meaningless now.

Other people are highlighting this film’s anti-male agenda (kill off John – male, replace with Dani – female) or it’s ‘woke culture’ banality. Honestly, that’s not my problem with this picture, my problem is how badly written it is and how dull turned out to be. See, when I watch a film, I just want one thing… to be entertained. Terminator: Dark Fate is anything but entertaining.

The other sequels have been mostly poor, maybe a few highlights, but mostly poor. Yet, they tried to do something different, at least they put some effort in. Terminator: Salvation with it’s idea to tell the story of John and Kyle in the future was a great idea, this is what T2 should’ve been back in 1991. Terminator Genesis (nope) also had a fantastic premise (badly realised and cast I admit) of another T-800 send back when Sarah was a child and preparing her for the events of the first film was fantastic. Even Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which was another lazy rehash of T2 and featured some terrible ‘comedy’ moments, at least that film had that amazing ending. But Dark Fate is bland, boring, tiresome and an insult to Terminator fans on every level.

Said to be the start of a new trilogy of Terminator films. Yeah they said that about both Terminator: Salvation and Genesis (I still refuse to spell it that stupid way) and look what happened there. Here’s an idea, how about just trying to make one good film and then see how it goes from there instead of forcing a trilogy?

Please do not waste you money on this dreck, the less money this film makes, the less likely it is to get a sequel. The Terminator franchise is dead and has been for many, many years now.

I'll Be Back

I hope not.

Update: Thankfully Terminator: Dark Fate is currently bombing at the box office. My faith in the public as been renewed. Hopefully Hollywood might take notice and realise they can’t keep churning out shit and expect people to lap it up.

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