At the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Arnold Schwarzenegger said he’d be back, and he delivered on that promise (once again) on Thursday, when Tim Miller‘s Terminator: Dark Fate had its coming-out party at CinemaCon.
Miller and Schwarzenegger took the stage with stars Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, and Linda Hamilton, who drew the loudest applause — appropriate given how we don’t see much of her these days. Miller was overcome with emotion talking about his film, which he said is a direct sequel to James Cameron‘s T2. Dropping f-bombs left and right, Miller revealed that Dark Fate‘s villain (Luna) has the ability to split, which makes him twice as deadly.
The Deadpool director seems like the perfect guy to have helped Cameron steer this franchise back on track. The action felt much more intense than past installments, and I suspect the film to delve into border politics given its Mexico City setting. Between the casting of Luna, Reyes and Diego Boneta, it’s great to see some diversity in a Terminator movie, and I love the new take on the franchise’s iconic score, which has a more Mexican sound this time around.
The first scene we saw was Davis’ introduction. She’s a time traveler who arrives in Mexico City, promptly causing a car accident and falling off a bridge. After being rescued by a young couple, the police force surrounds them and starts making threats, prompting a still-nude Davis to start kicking ass. She neutralizes the threat and then takes her clothes from the male half of the couple, leaving him just his underwear. The scene establishes that Hamilton won’t be the only badass woman in the film, as Davis kicks a ton of ass here.
After that, we were treated to an action sequence that marks the return of Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, who rescues Davis (who seems resigned to be killed) and Reyes from Luna, pumping round after round into his body until he falls off a bridge right before reaching his targets. This time around, Hamilton is given the “I’ll be back” line… and a bazooka.
From there, it was an all-out assault on the senses as we caught glimpses of an underwater action scene, and one where Luna is hanging off a plane, Tom Cruise-style. Air, land, water — this movie has it all, and it looks like Miller pulled out all the stops and spared no expense. The footage ended with our first look at Arnold in all his Terminator glory.
I’ve been writing about Davis for nearly a decade at this point and I’ve watched her blossom as a leading lady in Hollywood, but Dark Fate is the culmination of her career as a movie star, and I predict it’ll be a breakout role for the actress, provided the finished film lives up to what we saw today. With her steel-eyed gaze, I think she’ll be able to pick up where Hamilton left off, and the two of them defeating a robot uprising together sounds like a blast. And yet, it was Luna who stole the show at CinemaCon. He has big shoes to fill, since Robert Patrick was one of the all-time great villains in T2, but I really liked his work in Transpecos and think he’ll be up to the task.