Film Review-Terminator: Dark Fate

Linda Hamilton (left) and Arnold Schwarzenegger star in “Terminator: Dark Fate,” now playing at AMC Classic Foothills 12.

I would be the first in line for an action film starring Linda Hamilton and Jamie Lee Curtis. Throw in some Sigourney Weaver, and the big screen might just explode.

Hamilton reprises the role of Sarah Connor in “Terminator: Dark Fate,” the latest in a franchise that dates back to 1984. It was the story of Sarah Connor, a woman who’s destined to give birth to a baby named John, who will grow up to be a hero. Her story continued in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” when the baby was a teenager. Both movies involved Sarah fighting for her very life.

The franchise continued, but Hamilton’s part was done. Sure, Sarah Connor was recast, but Hamilton wasn’t in the role.

Until now.

“Dark Fate” brings Hamilton back. And it’s glorious. She’s had tragedy in her life. Stop now if you don’t want a decent-sized spoiler. Seriously. Last chance.

OK then. After the events of T2, Sarah and John (Edward Furlong) went into hiding. Unfortunately, there were multiple Terminator units that had been dispatched to kill him. One of them (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) found him. He didn’t escape this time.

Flash forward 30 some years, and Sarah is bitter. She’s lost everyone she ever loved, and she’s a one-woman killing machine when it comes to Terminators, who keep showing up.

But, “Dark Fate” isn’t totally Sarah’s story. It’s the story of a young woman named Dani Ramo (Natalia Reyes), who is the newest target for the future’s Terminators. You see, the Connors stopped Skynet, but that wasn’t the only possible villain.

If you haven’t seen previous franchise installments, I apologize that none of what I’ve written will make sense.

Dani is an important figure in the future, and a cyborg (for lack of a better term) is sent back to protect her. Her name is Grace (Mackenzie Davis), and she’s as much human as she is machine. Grace is determined, and she’s strong, both physically and in spirit. She has one mission: keep Dani safe.

Unfortunately, a protector is only sent back because a homicidal Terminator (played by Gabriel Luna) has been sent back to kill her.

A lot about this story will sound familiar. It’s the story of a young woman who can change the fate of the world. But, Dani isn’t Sarah Connor. In fact, this is going to be a spoiler, but it’s one I need to share. If you’re still reading at this point, spoilers don’t bother you, so here we go: At one point, Sarah tells Dani she’s the womb that will birth a hero. But no, Dani isn’t the mother of a hero. She IS the hero.

“Terminator: Dark Fate” features such strong female characters. Seriously, Schwarzenegger does make an appearance and while he’s incredibly funny, he’s not the hero of this film. He does all right, and I wouldn’t have minded if his part was bigger, but he’s not the main hero.

This is Sarah’s story. She must learn to deal with the grief and anger that has carried her for 30 years. She can barely stand the sight of Schwarzenegger’s Terminator face in this film, and yet she must work alongside him if Dani is to be saved.

This is Dani’s story. We watch her grow from a young woman who must cook and take care of her family to a woman willing to die to stop evil. She’s bait, she’s a weapon, she’s whatever she needs to be to stop the bad Terminator.

This is Grace’s story. In the future, she’s an orphan who learned to fight. She learned to protect those she loved. She learned no sacrifice was too great. She was a soldier, a warrior and a hero.

All of these women are heroes. Hamilton is truly a force to be reckoned with. Sarah doesn’t compare physically or technologically with the Terminators, past or present, but I have zero doubt she could decimate anything in her path. I’m reminded of Curtis in the newest “Halloween” installment that came out last year. Hamilton, 63, and Curtis, 60, need to lead a female version of “The Expendables.” I’ll be the first one buying tickets.

“Terminator: Dark Fate” also brings James Cameron back into the fold, and it shows. There’s a depth and emotional impact to this story we haven’t seen in previous installments. It’s the perfect continuation to the saga. Even if there isn’t another installment to this particular storyline, it is a successful, worthy addition to this franchise. It’d be a shame if viewers didn’t recognize how great it was while they had a chance, though.

Amanda Greever is a former editor, designer and writer at The Daily Times. She now works in public relations. Contact her at amandagreever@gmail.com.

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