War­rior is back in charge

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER -

Arnie’s back — just like he promised. But Linda Hamil­ton and her all-fe­male posse of Ter­mi­na­tor ter­mi­na­tors do most of the heavy lift­ing in this stand­alone se­quel.

Al­most three decades have passed since Hamil­ton’s ground­break­ing trans­for­ma­tion from wait­ress to war­rior in Ter­mi­na­tor 2.

Gruff, griz­zled, and mighty handy with a grenade launcher, Sarah Con­nor shows no sign of mel­low­ing with age.

Dark Fate also in­tro­duces Colom­bian ac­tress Natalia Reyes (Birds Of Pas­sage) as a feisty Mex­i­can fac­tory worker named Dani Ramos — the planet’s only hope.

Macken­zie Davis is a force to be reck­oned with as the fiercely pro­tec­tive cy­borg sent back from the fu­ture to save the un­sus­pect­ing tar­get from the up­graded liq­uid metal Rev 9 (Gabriel Luna).

But while the three ac­tors give fran­chise cre­ator James Cameron’s apoc­a­lyp­tic ac­tion ad­ven­ture ev­ery­thing they have, they are weighed down by ex­cess bag­gage and fur­ther stymied by an unimag­i­na­tive plot.

Dead­pool di­rec­tor Tim Miller is sim­i­larly hand­i­capped.

Per­haps be­cause he has so much rid­ing on it, Miller’s hotly an­tic­i­pated fol­low-up to the icon­o­clas­tic, sel­f­ref­er­en­tial and bit­ingly funny 2016 su­per­hero satire is strangely lack­ing in hu­mour.

The fran­chise’s out­sized an­ti­hero in­tro­duces some wel­come lev­ity when he makes his be­lated appearance, but for the most part, Dark Fate takes it­self way too se­ri­ously.

Ig­nor­ing the pre­vi­ous three films — Rise Of The Ma­chines, Sal­va­tion and Genisys — with which Cameron had no as­so­ci­a­tion, Dark Fate picks up where Ter­mi­na­tor 2 left off, or rather, in a kind of par­al­lel uni­verse.

Hav­ing suc­cess­fully saved our world from the ma­chines, the young Sarah Con­nor (Hamil­ton) and her teenage son John (Ed­ward Fur­long) are kick­ing back at a coastal re­sort when a rogue T-800 (Sch­warzeneg­ger) suc­cess­fully ex­e­cutes his mis­sion.

Flash for­ward ap­prox­i­mately 28 years. Skynet no longer ex­ists, but since mankind rarely learns from its past mis­takes, there’s a new apoc­a­lypse loom­ing. The more things change … With the help of the re­ha­bil­i­tated T-800, the tight-knit bunch of fe­male pro­tag­o­nists do their level best to out­run, out­fight and out­smart their far-su­pe­rior ad­ver­sary for the best part of two hours

As a genre piece, Dark Fate gets the job done and the ac­tion is toe-curl­ing.

Set pieces in­clude a tense, pedal-to-the-metal car chase that re­sults in max­i­mum col­lat­eral dam­age, a spec­tac­u­lar mid-air show­down, and a ver­tig­i­nous clash on the edge of a gi­ant dam.

Ad­vances in CGI al­low the film­mak­ers to add more lay­ers of malev­o­lence to the im­proved metal liq­uid Ter­mi­na­tor – the grin­ning ma­chine skull is truly macabre.

But Dark Fate’s screen­play feels like a bit of a throw­back. It’s a fa­mil­iar story, with an ex­pe­di­ent gen­der twist.

Con­nor is one of the most in­flu­en­tial fe­male char­ac­ters in ac­tion movie his­tory. It’s great to see 63-year-old Hamil­ton step­ping back into those shoes.

NOW SCREEN­ING

Linda Hamil­ton re­turns as Sarah O’Con­nor in Ter­mi­na­tor: Dark Fate.

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