Terminator: Dark Fate movie poster

Terminator: Dark Fate

In theaters November 1, 2019



128 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , , ,

If I never saw the previous Terminator films beyond Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), I certainly don’t remember them. I love a good action film and dig a sustainable franchise. Terminator: Dark Fate really isn’t either of those.

Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) is on the run from a Terminator, a fancy Rev-9, (Gabriel Luna) sent from the future to destroy her. It’s, of course, relentless and unstoppable and it destroys everything she loves. With the help of Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an augmented human from the future, and Special Guest Star Linda Hamilton as Sarah Conner, the three women run, hide phones in potato chip bags (don’t ask), and make their way across the border from Mexico to Texas (how hard can it be?) to find the originator of some mysterious texts Sarah received that led her to destroy more Terminators from the future.

There is lots of action and explosions and melty terminator horrors, but you know what? We’ve already seen this. Sadly, we’ve seen this in the reboot of other franchises. Jamie Lee Curtis plays a crusty, paranoid, heavy-drinker dealing with the demons of her past with a shotgun. Now Linda Hamilton plays the same exact role – crusty paranoid, heavy-drinker dealing the from demons of her past with a shotgun, and it’s not any more flattering. This isn’t ageism about older women unable to play action roles. This is about older women unable to play action roles because no one is writing new material for them. Strong women don’t always grow up to be bitter harpies who continue to make the same mistakes out of fear and mistrust, but you wouldn’t know that from recent movies. Sarah’s dialogue is cringy – first words, “I’ll be back” – no, seriously, and it vacillates between poor advice and worse advice. Terminator: Dark Fate is a Terminator film that originally didn’t have Linda Hamilton, but then she showed up on set one day and wouldn’t leave, so they wrote her in.

Try not to think too long about not only the premise but also how Carl (Arnold) knows what he knows. It requires such a suspension of disbelief, you may just give up and pretend you didn’t hear it. Keep in mind it’s been happening for the last 25 years, which makes the explanation worse.

There is lots of action in Terminator: Dark Fate it has to be wall to wall explosions or you’ll think too long about everything going on. The action is a lot of fun with lots of fast driving, running, and hand to hand combat. It’s impressive and certainly gets the blood up, but it also helps that there’s so little dialogue because what’s there is painful to listen to.  There are 6 writing credits on this film and I don’t think any of them actually worked with each other. This was script by committee with the narrative written around the action sequences, with close-ups on the Rev-9. Dani is shrill, Grace is robotic, Sarah- we don’t know what Sarah is doing but we have eyes on her so we know she’s hasn’t wandered off. It’s a primer in How Not to Write dialogue for Women: Bruh Edition.

Anyway, if you need your Terminator fix and something is compelling you to watch Linda and Arnold chew scenery for 128 minutes, it’s your ten-spot. I’m not here to stop you, just warn you because it’s about to get ugly and not in the fun ass-kicking way.

Terminator: Dark Fate is Rated R for swears, blood, death, people getting shot, people getting stabbed, people getting bludgeoned, people dying in car-b-ques, people falling from the sky, and the law of intended consequences being brutally abused.

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Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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