This post is not necessarily a review but a reaction with a dash of fan fiction. I can wait to see the movie for free, as I did Genysis. Terminator: Dark Fate looked like it had promise, with Linda Hamilton coming back and lending a sense of continuity, as well as Arnie. I thought it was great news that Edward Furlong would also apparently be back. Not such a good sign that his imdb credit just says “John Conner Reference.”
As Red Letter Media mentioned, the principle of T2 was, “No fate but what we make.” Unfortunately there is a fatalistic sensibility behind the sequels that followed.
Except for the vital core that gave purpose to Terminator and T2, the idea that John was important (and by extension, his mother Sarah) to leading the human resistance against the machines. But apparently in the “Time’s Up” era, even time machine stories are doomed to be infected by pandering ideology. A male cannot be the savior of humanity, because… misogyny? I don’t know. Disappointing especially because it casts a shadow on Linda Hamilton who was one of the go-to examples whenever studios or pundits cried sexism over fans rejecting a female lead. We do like Leia Organa, Sarah Connor, Ellen Ripley, Laurie Stode… any number of women in fun genre films.
People are asking about – and some calling for – the possible end of this brand. When does the currency of a brand or franchise become counterfeit? I don’t know.
If there is another, they should unceremoniously kill off Dani right at the beginning. Then old Sarah disables that Terminator and opens its head to hack its CPU for memory and determine where the future location of the resistance will be, where the time machine for the terminators is located, whether it is the same one used by the resistance, who are the known leaders of the human resistance, and a list of organic viruses from that time period that do not exist in modern day.
She takes note of the viruses and places the deactivated Terminator T-800 where it should be found by the future resistance with a detailed letter about how and where her son was killed. The letter is to Kyle Reese and Kate Brewster or current resistance leaders. In it, she warns that multiple terminators have been sent back and advises that the resistance find the location of the time machine in development and destroy it after sending a fighter back to save her and John. She obscures and shields the T-800 and returns to a graveyard where she cannot find John Conner’s grave.
44 year old John (Furlong, physically trained and with court appointed drug monitor to keep him sober) shows up and reminds her that although her memory has to catch up and let the dominoes fall from corrective time events, a resistance fighter (Brewster) urged him to hop a steamer to Europe. He has remained off the grid. He has sent her by mail shipping samples of his new tech. Brewster gave Sarah antidotes to the viruses introduced in this era’s environment so they can be inoculated.
They could not give it to the CDC for distribution without a ruse to avoid people dismissing the prospect of time travelers bringing over the new variation of small pox. The claim was made that the compound injection would be against present viruses caused by climate change and loss of rain forest. They can’t undo damage already done. Unless Sarah returns to change or add to her note and request but that would interfere with events that have shaped herself and John and even allowed John to be conceived. She says she prefers to deal with the present as it is and she is better off knowing there is no further time travel possible from the future to the present.
John reminds her that she carries in her backpack a device he made that can track and detect terminators of any variety. He has personally destroyed hundreds of models of them over the last few decades, give or take. Even if both of them die there should be no more travelers from the future to deal with.
The tracking device goes off, so they know there is still one Terminator nearby. They will compromise or destroy Legion after finding out who invents time travel tech and destroying that. They discover that the inventor is himself a cyborg only after John and Sarah agree it is okay to kill him off. They have come full circle, capable of Terminating, and yet the target turns out not to be human after all.
The final T-800 is liberated of his CPU and the process of being hacked for updated information but they discover his age and that his self destruct is due to go off. John and Sarah fail to get out of the tech building before the blast.
Firefighters tell TV reporters there is no trace of cause or survivors from the blast, let alone what was being worked on.
I don’t know if that would be enough closure, or what rights holders would allow. But it would encourage a fresh start not coasting on the nostalgia of those of us who saw Terminator in the Eighties.