Linda Hamilton returns as Sarah Connor, older but still locked and loaded, in “Terminator: Dark Fate.” In the background are Natalia Reyes and Mackenzie Davis. (Paramount Pictures)

Linda Hamilton returns as Sarah Connor, older but still locked and loaded, in “Terminator: Dark Fate.” In the background are Natalia Reyes and Mackenzie Davis. (Paramount Pictures)

James Cameron’s touches help restore ‘Terminator’ to glory

The producer was more involved in this sequel, and it shows — it’s tight, well-staged and doesn’t wear out its welcome.

The chase movie is one of the oldest and simplest forms of film. Look at Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner: One idea, with endless variations, always satisfying.

What worked for the coyote and roadrunner works very nicely for “Terminator: Dark Fate,” a highly enjoyable chapter in that ongoing franchise. It’s one long chase, with a pause in the middle — and that pause constitutes the most fascinating sequence in the entire “Terminator” storyline.

This film asks us to ignore all the movie and TV sequels since “Terminator 2,” which came out in 1991. If you’re like me and can’t remember all the time-tripping plot turns anyway, this is not a problem.

Two key figures return from “T2”: Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), whose efforts to protect her son formed the backbone of the previous films, and the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), the terminator itself, now aged and in a surprising new place.

“Dark Fate” kicks off with a startling scene set in 1998, then jumps ahead to the present day. Once again, a visitor from the future arrives to save someone.

The visitor is Grace (the decidedly otherworldly Mackenzie Davis, from “Tully” and “Blade Runner 2049”). She’s an “augment,” so parts of her body are mechanically enhanced.

Grace arrives in Mexico City to save Dani (Natalia Reyes), a young woman who will be important in the 2040s. Unfortunately, Grace is followed by a next-generation terminator (the very unnerving Gabriel Luna) seeking to eliminate Dani.

Sarah Connor gets into the mix almost right away, but the T-800’s entrance is delayed, as it should be for any proper diva. First we get a thrilling car chase, then a tense stand-off at an immigration detention center on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Director Tim Miller (he did the first “Deadpool”) manages the action with aplomb. There’s no coyote or roadrunner, but the film is basically a series of cartoon cliffhangers, rendered breathlessly.

The film’s one calm sequence is Schwarzenegger’s arrival, which has a reflective tone. For a few minutes the film allows its characters to sit around and hash out old resentments and regrets; there’s a whiff of mortality in the air.

Even the T-800 looks gray and weary, something conveyed by Schwarzenegger’s canny performance. You’re allowed to feel a sense of how a gigantic apparatus like the “Terminator” mythology comes down to actual characters.

Then, back to the slam-bang stuff. But at just over two hours, “Dark Fate” doesn’t outwear its welcome — by comparison to other franchises we could mention, this sequel does its job in tight fashion.

It’s easy to detect the hand of “Terminator” originator James Cameron, who was more directly involved in the production on this film than he has been since “T2.” Cameron’s gift for grabby ideas is on juicy display — it’s candy you know is empty calories, but hard to resist.

Will there be another one? Could be, but “Dark Fate” has the air of a farewell, too. At this point there are so many time-travel lines criss-crossing that maybe we should just leave the future alone.

“Terminator: Dark Fate” (3 stars)

Picking up the action after “Terminator 2” (forget those other sequels), this chapter brings back Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) for a tight, well-managed chase movie. You can detect the hand of producer James Cameron in the movie’s grabby ideas, and this one doesn’t outwear its welcome. With Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes.

Rating: R, for violence, language

Opening Friday: Alderwood, Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre Mountlake Terrace, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood Cinemas, Meridian, Oak Tree, Pacific Place, Seattle 10, Thornton Place, Woodinville, Blue Fox Drive-in, Cascade Mall, Oak Harbor Plaza

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Life

Camp Fire attendees pose after playing in the water. (Photo courtesy by Camp Fire)
The best childcare in Snohomish County

You voted, we tallied. Here are the results.

Mukilteo Police Chief Andy Illyn and the graphic he created. He is currently attending the 10-week FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. (Photo provided by Andy Illyn)
Help wanted: Unicorns for ‘pure magic’ career with Mukilteo police

“There’s a whole population who would be amazing police officers” but never considered it, the police chief said.

To most, tiles are utilitarian. To some, they’re a sought-after art form.

Collectors particularly prize tiles made by early 20th century art potteries. This Wheatley piece sold for $216 at auction.

Spring plant sales in Snohomish County

Find perennials, vegetable starts, shrubs and more at these sales, which raise money for horticulture scholarships.

beautiful colors of rhododendron flowers
With its big, bright blooms, Washington’s state flower is wowing once again

Whether dwarf or absolutely ginormous, rhodies put on a grand show each spring. Plus, they love the Pacific Northwest.

Whidbey duo uses fencing to teach self-discipline, sportsmanship to youth

Bob Tearse and Joseph Kleinman are sharing their sword-fighting expertise with young people on south Whidbey Island.

Craig Chambers takes orders while working behind the bar at Obsidian Beer Hall on Friday, April 12, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Obsidian Beer Hall takes over former Toggle’s space in downtown Everett

Beyond beer, the Black-owned taphouse boasts a chill vibe with plush sofas, art on the walls and hip-hop on the speakers.

Glimpse the ancient past in northeast England

Hadrian’s Wall stretches 73 miles across the isle. It’s still one of England’s most thought-provoking sights.

I accidentally paid twice for my hotel. Can I get a refund?

Why did Valeska Wehr pay twice for her stay at a Marriott property in Boston? And why won’t Booking.com help her?

How do you want your kids to remember you when they grow up?

Childhood flies by, especially for parents. So how should we approach this limited time while our kids are still kids?

Dalton Dover performs during the 2023 CMA Fest on Friday, June 9, 2023, at the Spotify House in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

The Red Hot Chili Pipers come to Edmonds, and country artist Dalton Dover performs Friday as part of the Everett Stampede.

Lily Gladstone poses at the premiere of the Hulu miniseries "Under the Bridge" at the DGA Theatre, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Mountlake Terrace’s Lily Gladstone plays cop in Hulu’s ‘Under the Bridge’

The true-crime drama started streaming Wednesday. It’s Gladstone’s first part since her star turn in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.