Combustible Celluloid
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With: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Diego Boneta, Gabriel Luna
Written by: David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes, Billy Ray, based on a story by James Cameron, Charles H. Eglee, Josh Friedman, David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes
Directed by: Tim Miller
MPAA Rating: R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity
Running Time: 128
Date: 11/01/2019

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

2 Stars (out of 4)

'Terminator' Limits

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This sixth Terminator movie attempts to erase the events of the previous three (dud) sequels, but itself winds up feeling half-erased, like a dull, pale, irrelevant carbon copy of a once-glorious hit.

In Terminator: Dark Fate, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) escapes with her son John in the year 1998, but a terminator catches up with them anyway. Twenty-two years later, in Mexico, two new time travelers show up. Grace (Mackenzie Davis) appears to be a superhuman fighter, and a brand-new terminator (Gabriel Luna) seems to have the same liquid-metal quality as the T-1000.

They both begin tracking down young Dani (Natalia Reyes), a normal girl who lives with her father and brother. The terminator attacks Dani, and Grace swoops in to defend her. Before long, Sarah Connor herself joins the fray. Together and on the run from the deadly machine, the three women follow secret coordinates to Texas, where they hope to enlist the aid of an old foe...

Terminator: Dark Fate not only re-unites Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but James Cameron produced and contributed to the "story" (with about half-a-dozen other writers). Yet none of them really seems to have a reason to be here, other than to make a few reference-tinged jokes. Their presence actually detracts from the main story, that of Chloe and Dani, but even if it didn't, Chloe and Dani's story offers nothing new or surprising anyway.

Not even the evil terminator in this one offers anything new. He recycles the "liquid metal" conceit from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and includes a new power that makes no sense: he can separate his skeleton from his skin, and be in two places at once. (One would think the skin would be more vulnerable, but the movie does nothing with this idea.)

Director Tim Miller, whose previous work on Deadpool was bright and colorful and smooth, turns in sludgy, choppy action with a dull luster; it's often difficult to tell what's going on. There's also a distinct lack of suspense and a distinct lack of humor, except for one line wherein Schwarzenegger (ironically) declares himself to be "extremely funny."

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