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Action-packed T2 sequel Dark Fate finds its original grit

ANOTHER instalment in the once mighty Terminator franchise, Dark Fate envelops us once again in the futuristic threat of time-travelling killing machines. Instead of continuing the story from its recent and less than worthy predecessors, Terminator: Dark Fate serves as a direct sequel to Terminator 2, disregarding the timeline set in place by the following movies. This is also the first film since T2 to feature input from series creator and cinematic goliath James Cameron, who both produced and helped write the story for this film.

Cameron’s influence can most definitely be felt. Dark Fate is successful in both capitalising on the spectacle of modern visual effects as well as the more gritty and grounded nature of the original movies. Dark Fate is just as action-packed and thrilling as the entries, while also being able to reconnect to many of the great things in Cameron’s
original vision.

The plot (like basically every other Terminator film) follows a group of heroic allies trying to protect one of their own from a highly-advanced technological assassin sent from the future. The target in Dark Fate is the seemingly unremarkable Dani (Natalia Reyes) a Mexico City resident whose life suddenly descends into turmoil when she is hunted by the relentless Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna).

Luckily, Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an augmented super soldier, was also sent from the future to protect Dani.
It isn’t long before series veteran Sarah Connor (once again played by Linda Hamilton) joins the team as they travel across Mexico and the US, evading the deadly robot.

What’s noticeably refreshing about Dark Fate is the strong female leads that drive the plot. It feels right and deserved without feeling forced by an agenda. It’s great to see Hamilton back at the helm and new characters such as Grace and Dani add to the richness of the Terminator mythos rather than detracting from it. Dark Fate also sees the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800, the face of the franchise and the original Terminator. He joins the team later on in the film as they take their final stand against the Rev-9. We see how T-800 has developed since losing his connection with the now non-existent Skynet.
Surprisingly, Dark Fate explores some philosophical themes here, as T-800, now called ‘Carl’, has integrated into society and gained some humanity. It’s an interesting subplot, but its quickly side-lined as the film leaps back in to the action-dominated plot.

One of this film’s strengths is definitely the way it deals with the legacy of the franchise. Bringing back the beloved characters of Sarah and T-800 could have let the film fall into repetitiveness and undeserved nostalgia. However, the older and more seasoned versions of the characters are perfect counterparts to the younger new additions. There’s the odd franchise in-joke, but it doesn’t feel too contrived or awkward.

All in all, Dark Fate is a return to form for the aging sci-fi/action franchise. It’s a wild and adrenaline-fuelled action thrill ride, exactly what you want when you sit down for a Terminator film. Although it doesn’t quite match the unbridled originality of the first two films, this sequel shows how to introduce new characters and ideas while also respecting its much-loved cinematic roots.

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