2 out of 5 stars (has some good moments, but is overall bad)
I wanted to like Terminator: Dark Fate. While the internet once again booed the idea of an action movie with diverse female leads, I withheld judgment until seeing the film itself. Unfortunately, the makers of Terminator: Dark Fate chose to copy-paste the plot and character beats from the first two movies, replacing the emotion, intensity, and characterization that made those films great with cringe-worthy wokeness. Despite an intriguing opening and a strong performance from Natalia Reyes, Terminator: Dark Fate is a soulless, mechanical slog that assures its franchise’s destruction.
Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) is an average woman living in Mexico City with her family. One night, Dani and her brother Diego (Diego Boneta) see an injured naked woman (a bland Mackenzie Davis) appear out of nowhere and go over to help. It turns out this woman is a cybernetically enhanced human named Grace who was sent from the future to protect Dani from a REV-9 robot (Gabriel Luna) who intends to kill her so she won’t birth the future leader of a human revolution against malevolent machines. After Dani’s family is killed, she and Grace hit the road and bump into Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), who prevented a different apocalyptic future ruled by malevolent machines and begrudgingly agrees to help.
Terminator: Dark Fate has well-integrated special effects, the opening minutes are intriguing, and Natalia Reyes provides Dani with far more emotion and character than the script does, but my praises end there. Linda Hamilton seems bored, Mackenzie Davis is more robotic than the actual robots, and the action is incomprehensible. Lastly, the films’ cringe-worthy wokeness feels specifically designed to alienate whatever loyal fans this series has left, including scenes of previous films’ accomplishments being mocked, every male character other than one being unnecessary, evil, or dead, and an inexplicable moment where Dani tells Grace and Sarah “I wish you two weren’t so white”.
The failure of Terminator: Dark Fate (a projected loss of over $100 million as of this writing) should teach Hollywood that diversity and wokeness are not the same. Movies like Coco, Us, and The Hate U Give celebrated diversity by providing strong, well-developed characters and universal stories about minorities rather than pushing toxic political agendas. Even without its toxic politicking, Terminator: Dark Fate is a slow, uninvolving mess that, like its titular villain, copies the base elements of its hosts without the soul or humanity that defined them. Please Terminate this franchise Now.
Rated R for Violence Throughout, Language, and Brief Nudity