Movie Review: Terminator: Dark Fate
After 28 years and on the fourth attempt, we finally have a worthy Terminator 3.
In what is a rare occurrence these days, a lacklustre trailer has led to a pretty good movie and Dark Fate becomes the only Terminator entry since 1991's Judgment Day that really gets the themes previously set up.
The proof of that comes at a very distinct moment when one character – in an open goal moment to provide a wink to the audience – looks ready to deliver one of the franchise's catchphrases. Then they don't.
And it is glorious.
That moment alone lifts the huge weight of poor expectations and tells you this instalment is its own beast. Settle in and enjoy.
This moment also comes after one of the most jaw-dropping sequences early on in the film.
No spoilers here but you will be asking/screaming: "How did they do that?!"
It is stunning and suggests the technology wizard James Cameron had a larger hand to play in that particular segment.
Being a Terminator film, chances are you will end up asking questions about how the timeline works, probably until your brain leaks from your ear.
But Dark Fate will also throw up other questions.
An intro showing footage of an early '90s-era Sarah Connor growling her visions of the apocalypse while institutionalised will have you asking why did we not see more of Linda Hamilton. It is a short clip but packed with wow-level acting.
On a similar tip, any chance we can get more of Arnold Schwarzenegger acting? He nails his fairly stoic role with warmth and humour - he even has the best line of the film. This is similar to two of Arnies recent though low-key roles in Maggie and Aftermath. But don't worry, he does get quite violent here too.
In their 60s and 70s respectively, both Hamilton and Schwarzeneggar still convincingly dish out the action while letting the younger cast do the larger, more athletic movements.
Newcomers Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes complete Team Hunted and hold their own against the stalwarts - particularly Davis in a hugely physical role.
Dark Fate takes a cue from last year's Halloween by rejecting previous sequels.
In this case, the campy Rise Of The Machines, dour Salvation and outright nonsense of Genisys are all out.
This return to form reinforces that the franchise was at its best when revolving around Sarah, not the Terminator. And while she is not the target of Gabriel Luna's new killer Rev-9, she is still integral, and it is fun to see a shade of jealousy and rejection that she's no longer on the machines' hit list.
Also fun will be seeing how many men start crying/ranting online that in Dark Fate, it is the women who are in charge.
Director Tim Miller (Deadpool) brings necessary visceral crunch to the action, though one section does overtax the suspension of disbelief and gets a bit too messy. It's quite a let down to feel your attention wane.
And while James Cameron being on board as producer has helped, Dark Fate lacks the size, scope and practical effects oomph of T2.
It is not perfect, but it is a great fresh take on a machine we long thought had rusted through.
Terminator: Dark Fate (NC16)