First of all, this is a Mexican Terminator movie, and that is a beautiful thing to say. A Terminator film with a Latino twist, in the spirit of Logan (2016). Because I feel like both of these films shared some similar themes. Specifically, the notion that the heroes or saviors of these two films are Latin characters. Female Latin characters to be precise. In both films, they are here to save humanity or in the case of Logan; to be the last hope and future leader of mutants.
Hollywood has always refused to cast Latinos positively or create stories where the narrative paints Latinos in a positive light. And although this is a step in the right direction, we are still way off from changing the Latino stereotypes Hollywood has bestowed upon my people. My main issue here is in the lack of diversity in the writing team, they were six writers credited, and none of them was Latin or female. You cannot presume to write about Latin culture in general without having experienced our culture first hand by actually being one of us.
Nevertheless, I digress, in this brand new installment, James Cameron finally makes his return to the Terminator franchise. However, this time around, not as a Director. This time, he serves as a producer tasked with properly rebooting the franchise and align it with the first two original Terminator films, which is something the last three Terminator films failed to accomplish. Although, I must note that I did enjoy Terminator Genisys a lot more than some critics did. In the last few years, Cameron has been focused on his Avatar sequels, so I suspect that taking some time off to direct a Terminator movie was not an option. Directing duties were given to Tim Miller of Deadpool fame.
Terminator: Dark Fate is a straight sequel to Terminator 2 Judgment Day. Furthermore, they are overriding all of the sequels after T2, similar to how they rebooted Halloween (2018). As a fan of Terminator, Linda Hamilton coming back was a huge selling point for me. She is incredible in this movie. She reminds us that after all these years away in semi-retirement from acting, she can still carry a film as the lead. The new timeline as it stands now is that Skynet was stopped after T2, and judgment day was prevented. Dark Fate picks things up very similar to how the first two Terminator movies began, with two naked time-traveling killing beings dropping from the sky, beating up, killing anyone in their immediate surroundings, and taking their clothes. Then, we are in Mexico, where we are introduced to our Heroine of the story Daniela Ramos (Dani). Her story arc is similar to Sarah Connor in the original Terminator film. She is young, weak, working a minimum wage job.
Meanwhile, there is a shapeshifting Terminator sent back to kill her, (played by Gabriel Luna), and a non-Terminator sent back to protect her (played by Makenzie Davis); in this case, an enhanced human from the future (similar to how Reese was sent back in Terminator 1 to protect Sarah, except he was not enhanced). We shockingly find out that a Terminator killed John Connor just a few years after the events of T2. We are shown a T-800 Terminator, (A young version of Arnold Schwarzenegger), succeeding in killing John Connor. So we assume that he was sent back into the past before Skynet was destroyed and spent years tracking down John and Sarah, until eventually completing his mission. Skynet is no longer the threat to humanity; instead, it has been replaced by a new threat in the form of Legion, an AI created in the future for cyberwarfare. Legion eventually turns on humanity, and Dani becomes the leader of the human resistance.
One of the coolest things about this movie was how they re-introduce Sarah Connor as this “Terminator Killer.” Where she goes around killing Terminators as soon as they drop from the sky. She is filled with rage and grief, avenging the bastards that killed her son. The mystery angle here is that she receives encrypted messages from time to time with location, time and day where a Terminator will show up and with a signature text saying “For John.” I thought that was a neat touch. We later find out that those messages come from the same T-800 Terminator who killed John. Since his mission has been completed, he finds himself free of any programming. He begins to develop free will and consciousness, which prompts him to seek a way to find a purpose for his existence. He also explains that when time displacement occurs, it sends a ripple effect. Because he is from the future, he can sense those ripples a couple of days before it happens. So, he knows when a terminator is coming from the future. This means that Skynet before it was destroyed, sent multiple Terminators through different timelines to increase the chances of killing John. Then, Sarah shows up and destroys them the moment they arrive.
The special effects were cool; my only issue was with the fighting sequences, all the hand to hand combat action sequences were sped up to a degree where they were somewhat unwatchable and blurry. It cheapens the action; it blurs it. Makes it feel like a video game, they need to stop making action sequences like that, especially in action movies. The Dani Character was very refreshing, to say the least, especially when she has to make her way into the US running away from the Terminator trying to kill her. She has to cross the border with a bunch of other immigrants, turning her into an undocumented Mexican immigrant, and essentially an undocumented Mexican immigrant is the savior of all humanity. There are some recycled concepts from the original Terminator movie. However, those concepts still work, and I have no issues with that. The lesson to learn here is that somewhere in our future, AI will get turned on, and at some point, it will turn on humanity and seek to wipe us out from existence. So, in a way, we are being told that it is inevitable that the machines at some point in our future will rise against humans. I know the Box Office numbers have not been too kind to this movie, and that is unfortunate. Because even if you are a casual fan of the Terminator series, you will enjoy this movie. It is a fun and entertaining film. The best since Terminator 2.
Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿