Whether Terminator: Dark Fate is the start of a new franchise or the ending of a franchise is up for debate, as the film can seamlessly go in either direction. The one thing this film doesn’t due is muddy up an already gonzo timeline that I, myself, have tried figuring out in an almost Doc Brown, chalkboard in the middle of a living room, sort of way.
Easily the third-best film in the series, Dark Fate feels like an apology letter to its fans for the last sixteen years, as the writers (The Dark Knight‘s David S. Goyer and The Hunger Game‘s Billy Ray) buckle down and return to brass tacks that made The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day so great, by writing out of continuity the three previous films. Coupled with director Tim Miller (Deadpool), who also happens to be a visual effects genius, who’s behind the camera is just as impressive as who’s in front of it.
Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger reprise their roles one more time as Sarah Connor and the T-800 and are forced to team up as a new terminator, the Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna, Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D), which happens to be two terminators in one, comes back through time to kill Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), a mechanic who–and I cannot stress enough the irony–is afraid of robots replacing humans in the workforce.
Luckily for Dani, a cybernetically-enhanced human named Grace (Mackenzie Davis, Halt and Catch Fire) returns back in time to keep her alive. Grace has her work cut out for her as the T-800 and T-1000 keep her on her heels, and after a spectacular highway chase scene, they’re joined by Sarah Connor, who’s just as lethal and badass than ever. The three of them have to learn how to trust one another and survive to uncover the secret of the new postapocalyptic future in store for them.
Dark Fate rewrites the future of the franchise by focusing completely on the present. We don’t need to talk about what happened then and what’s going to happen in the future. We know this, and the writers know this, which is why this film feels like the first real sequel to Judgment Day. The pieces of those original films are still in place, but the world around them has changed, our conversations have evolved. It’s The Terminator all over again, but in a way if the movie was made today.
This is it, folks. No more muddled timeline, no more garbage sequels, no more alternate dimensions, and no more chalkboards in the living room.