By John Mulderig
NEW YORK (CNS) — Grown fans of the action genre will find the sci-fi adventure “Terminator: Dark Fate” (Paramount) a serviceable diversion. Logicians dedicated to the details of cause and effect, not so much.
There’s a feminist cast to the proceedings as director Tim Miller’s film reaches back to the first two movies in the franchise that began in 1984 and connects its veterans with a new generation. Thus Linda Hamilton returns as Sarah Connor and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the time-traveling Terminator who once preyed on her, though his persona and their relationship are both transformed here in ways that it would be a spoiler to detail.
Having devoted her life to defeating Terminators whenever and wherever they turn up, Sarah is on the scene when a new exemplar of the relentless, shape-shifting robots, played by Gabriel Luna, arrives to rub out Dani Ramos (Natalie Reyes), a so-far obscure resident of Mexico City who will one day play a vital role in the survival of humanity. So too, however, is Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an enhanced human from the future.
Though Sarah and Grace initially clash, they eventually unite in the effort to protect Dani. This being the age of the internet and security cams, though, their mechanical adversary has a lot of advantages in keeping tabs on them.
Leaving aside the perpetual philosophical problems inherent in jumping into the past (or future, for that matter), viewers paying close attention will find that themes of teamwork, conversion, forgiveness and self-sacrificing dedication have been worked into the story. But the real agenda is, of course, to have dust ups between mighty good guys and villains.
While Miller’s movie doesn’t revel in bloodletting, there’s enough strong mayhem that kids should certainly be left at home and younger teens as well. Add on the fact that both Grace and the automated assassin, like Schwarzenegger himself back in the Reagan era, arrive in the here and now unattired, and the parents of mature adolescents may be wary as well.
Youngsters won’t be missing out on much, however. While enjoyable enough, “Terminator: Dark Fate” is not much better than average.
The film contains much violence, some of it gory, a few gruesome sights, rear nudity, at least one profanity, a couple of milder oaths and numerous rough and crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.