***/**** Image A- Sound A Extras B-
starring Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes
screenplay by David Goyer & Justin Rhodes and Billy Ray
directed by Tim Miller
by Walter Chaw There's a moment in Terminator: Dark Fate--the sixth entry in the long-running franchise but a do-over in terms of narrative continuity--where a woman, mortally wounded, gives consent for things to be done with her body after she's gone. It's a small moment, and one that works to move the film's exposition, but it speaks volumes to how carefully the script, by David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes, and Billy Ray, has endeavoured to be at least partly a conversation about how women are reduced to their physical function and appearance. "He's not here for you, he's here for your womb," says a grizzled Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) to frightened, on-the-run Dani (Natalia Reyes)--but "he," a killer robot from the future called a "Rev-9" (Gabriel Luna), isn't. He's there for something else. The picture opens with Sarah's videotaped therapy session from Terminator 2, in which she recounts her dream of nuclear Armageddon--a reminder of how her carefree party-girl character from the original had transformed through the trauma of losing a lover and escaping a monster from the future, only to be branded crazy by an unctuous male therapist and imprisoned in a facility where we witness her further humiliation and assault. Dark Fate shows what happens to Sarah and her son, the saviour of the future and a target of two assassination attempts, while in hiding in Guatemala, then hops forward into our present to the arrival in a ball of blue lightning of Grace (Mackenzie Davis), who, upon proving her battle-worthiness (and artificial augmentation) against a trio of adversaries, clothes herself in a man's attire even though a woman's is available. Function, the decision suggests, over appearance.