The trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate dropped today and women are taking the front lines.
Every Terminator installment since T2: Judgment Day has tried and failed to bottle the lightning of the originals. Now director Tim Miller (of Deadpool fame) launches his own Terminator-esque rescue mission for the franchise, diving into the past to save the future. For the first time since 1991, both Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (the T-800 Terminator) reprise their roles in this universe.
The trailer opens on a pastiche of Terminator’s iconic highway tracking shot. But instead of the expected Sarah Connor voiceover, we hear a new voice. It’s Dani Ramos, a new character played by Natalia Reyes. She’s young, she’s scared, and she’s new to this post-apocalytpic nightmare, just like the Sarah Connor of the first Terminator film.
Then we smash into a classic Terminator car chase (this time hauntingly juxtaposed with a soft rendition of Björk’s “Hunter”). Here we glimpse the new Terminator. Gabriel Luna carries the energy of Robert Patrick’s T-1000 from T2: not physically imposing like the giant Arnold, but quiet and spooky and ready to burst into violence.
And the T-1000 comparison keeps going. Luna’s terminator melts into a black liquid metal and bursts through the windshield of his truck. But he doesn’t just liquify like the T-1000. He splits into another terminator entirely. Which is really freaking cool but also makes me question the physical limits of this new Terminator model.
But Luna isn’t the only killer cyborg around. Grace, played by Mackenzie Davis, has some sort of mechanical enhancement going on (even though she insists she’s human). Fans of network TV’s Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles will get serious Summer Glau/Cameron vibes from this new character.
Women take center stage in this story. We see more of Dani Ramos, the Sarah Connor analogue who gives the initial voiceover. Mexico has always played a big part in the Terminator franchise, but for the first time a Mexican character now takes the spotlight. The plot appears to revolve around her much like the first Terminator revolves around Sarah. For as-of-yet unknown reasons, our heroes must save Dani’s life.
That’s the big question of this trailer: What’s up with Dani? Is she now the key to stopping Skynet? It’s worth noting that John Connor is nowhere in sight. Perhaps our heroines are no longer waiting for a man to save the future?
Speaking of which, Sarah Connor returns in force. The franchise has finally let her grow older and the result is 100% cooler than any of the younger re-castings. Even against Mackenzie Davis’s younger psuedo-terminator, Sarah comes across as the dangerous one. Robots won’t save the day here. She will.
Arnold has been allowed to age as well. Instead of hiding him beneath CGI, this version of the T-800 carries the gravitas of age. We don’t get much Arnold here, but it’s already refreshing to see his Terminator handled this way.
Another hero of the trailer is cinematographer Ken Seng (who worked with Miller on Deadpool). Seng brings a life to these shots that promises much more than the bland presentation of Terminator: Genisys (it took my word processor nine tries to believe that “Genisys” is a word). The camerawork brings shades of Logan and Mad Max: Fury Road to the table, which feels just right for the grounded aesthetic Terminator.
But some of the action shots give me pause. Specifically, the sequence of two airplanes playing chicken as Luna and Davis hang off of them. It’s hard to say what’s too much in a movie about time-traveling cyborgs, but the original Terminator films had verisimilitude. Most of the Dark Fate trailer, aside from the airplane thing, achieves this. It’s hard to tell if this airplane sequence will sit as awkwardly in the film as it does in the trailer.
Will Tim Miller’s rescue mission succeed? Or will the franchise suffer its own dark fate? We’ll soon find out. For now, here’s the trailer: