That sentient AI from a dystopian future has returned and is still sending terminating robots back in time to take out pesky humans who might one day defeat it in Terminator: Dark Fate. Director Tim Miller's latest installment is great entertainment and a welcome return to form for the Terminator franchise, featuring a great cast, killer special effects, and nonstop action.
(Some spoilers below.)
While technically the sixth film in the series, Dark Fate has actually been conceived as a direct sequel to the hugely successful first two films: The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. So Terminator: Dark Fate pretty much ignores all the other Terminator movies as existing in alternate timelines. Best of all, it reunites stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton with James Cameron on board as producer. The film takes place two decades after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. A new, improved Terminator (Gabriel Luna) is sent from the future to take out a young woman named Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). A cyborg/human hybrid named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) joins forces with Sarah Connor (Hamilton) and the original Terminator (Schwarzenegger) to protect her.
The film establishes its direct-sequel bona fides right off the bat with a brief but critical scene showing Sarah and her son John relaxing on a Guatemalan beach in 1998, having averted Judgment Day a few years earlier. (Edward Furlong was initially tapped to reprise his role as John Connor, but it ultimately didn't happen. Instead, Miller used CGI to recreate Furlong's youthful face from T2.) Cut to 2020 and the arrival in Mexico City of two new visitors from the future: Grace and the Rev-9 Terminator. Grace manages to save Dani from the Rev-9's initial attack on a factory floor and escape, with the Rev-9 in hot pursuit.
Just when things look dire, Sarah Connor comes to their aid and they hole up off the grid to regroup. Sarah is understandably suspicious of Grace. And Grace comes bearing bad news: "You may have changed the future, but you didn't change our fate." Skynet never came into being in the altered future timeline, but an AI designed for cyberwarfare, dubbed Legion, did. And as before, a human resistance formed. Dani will play a key role in that resistance, so naturally Legion wants her dead.