David Ellison’s Skydance Media bought the Terminator rights and in 2015, Terminator Genisys (read the review) attempted to reboot the franchise, riffing on Cameron’s 1984 original and bringing back Arnold Schwarzenegger to his trademark role. Genisys was supposed to kick-start a new trilogy but disappointing box office saw those plans scraped by Ellison and he decided that what the Terminator franchise was lacking was James Cameron and he reached out to its creator who came onboard Terminator: Dark Fate as an Executive Producer.
Deleting all previous entries save the first two films, Dark Fate resets the narrative and brings back Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. What we have with this Tim Miller directed pic is the best film since Terminator 2. The Terminator franchise has been pretty uneven since Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released back in 1991. This shift in quality is because James Cameron jumped ship and no one with the same talent was able to pilot the series, with a revolving door of directors attempting to reboot the franchise without ever really getting a grip on the tone. Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines in 2003 was a valiant effort to continue Cameron’s narrative and the ending packed a pretty powerful punch but McG’s Terminator: Salvation lacked the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger and its dystopian future setting made it more of a generic sci-fi action film than something that could stand toe-to-toe with Cameron’s first two films.
The central trifecta of Linda Hamilton, Natalia Reyese and Mackenzie Davis is quite refreshing and it shows that three women can anchor an action movie without having to throw in comedy and high fashion (I’m looking at you, Charlie’s Angels). These characters work together and it’s because you actually believe in them individually. Hamilton’s Sarah Connor is still an ass kicking badass and you fully buy her as the character that we left way back in 1991. Mackenzie Davis’ Grace also feels believable, cut from the same cloth as Michael Biehn’s Kyle Reese in the original. Dark Fate is a Terminator film and there you need Schwarzenegger. He too delivers as Carl, a retired T-800 who decided that his new mission was to focus on family. It’s an interesting concept and it allows Schwarzenegger to play a cyborg which has some humanity.
Budgeted at $185 million, Terminator: Dark Fate grossed $62.2 million at the US box office and $261.2 million globally. It’s lacklustre box office was the final nail in the coffin for the Terminator franchise – for now.