Arnold Is Back, But the Ladies Rule In ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’
I remember it was the year 1991, I was still in school and was also a loyal audience of Dr Prannoy Roy’s TV show, The World This Week, and it was here that I was first blown over by visuals of Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The TV show used to end with clips of international film and music stories and in one particular episode, the forming and disintegration of Robert Patrick as a liquid metal-made, shapeshifting T-1000 in Terminator 2 left us all spellbound. The film itself, directed by James Cameron, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, was a never-before-seen action spectacle that went on to become the biggest blockbuster in the actor-politician’s career.
The biggest win of the latest in the Terminator series - Terminator: Dark Fate is that it manages to bring back the magic of the most popular films in the franchise. The fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and James Cameron (with a co-producer and a shared story credit) have got together again after 28 long years has a lot to do with it. What’s more, the latest instalment is directed by Tim Miller of Deadpool fame.
In many ways, Terminator: Dark Fate is The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day reloaded. The film’s story follows the same basic plot, a Terminator (Gabriel Luna) from the future is sent back in time to kill Daniella Ramos (Natalia Reyes) so that she doesn’t give birth to a resistance leader. At the same time, an augmented human, Grace (Mackenzie Davis) has also been sent back in time to protect Daniella. Meanwhile, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is back as a ‘Terminator hunter’ and they all get T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) out of retirement in their battle against the new Terminator.
Terminator: Dark Fate begins with the footage of Sarah Connor in a mental asylum from Terminator 2, giving the viewers a clear link to where the film takes off from. We also learn that Sarah’s kid, John Connor, has been killed by one of the Terminators who hunted him down later. The film then jumpstarts into a relentless and breathtaking action set piece involving hand to hand combats, a shape-shifting Terminator, a cyborg human, a truck chase, lots of gun fights almost a shadow of the action sequence at the start of Terminator 2. And guess what, Sarah Connor’s first lines here are, “I’ll be back,” a hat-tip to the original 1984 film.
The latest instalment has its main three women protagonists doing all the heavy duty fighting in trying to bring down an unstoppable killing machine. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Carl, who’s still coming to terms with the fact that he killed Sarah’s child, comes in much later to give the ladies some extra muscle. The narrative though simplistic is peppered with several action set-pieces to keep the audience hooked. Also, what works for this Tim Miller film is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, the emotional, passive aggressive banter between Sarah and Carl keep things in a lighter zone.
While Terminator: Dark Fate may not be as terrific as the sequel, it certainly is a worthy follow-up. James Cameron and his co-writers bring in contemporary events into the storyline with an elaborate action sequence playing out at a Mexican detention centre near the US border. Here, the augmented human cyborg, Grace, frees migrants from their cells to engineer her own escape with the Mexican Daniella -the only hope for the survival of mankind. Who says you can’t make a political comment in an out and out mainstream film featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger?
While the story of Terminator: Dark Fate is absolutely predictable, the narrative remains engaging and explosive action sequences visually arresting. If the latest Terminator film can give you a deja vu to one of the greatest action films of all time, it must be a good thing, right?
Verdict: I’ll go with 3 Quints out of 5 for Terminator: Dark Fate, don’t miss it on the big screen if you are a Terminator fan.
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