Watching “Terminator: Dark Fate” in theaters the other night was like getting reunited with a long-lost friend and picking up a long-forgotten conversation. After the last two Terminator films, “Salvation” and “Genisys,” I thought there was no possibility of a return to what made the franchise shine in the first place. I’m glad I was mistaken.  

“Terminator: Dark Fate” takes place 28 years after the events that took place in “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.” Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), along with her son, John, thought they changed the world by preventing its destruction. Their efforts only rewrote the future but didn’t change the path it was heading on, a future where man battles machines.

Connor steps back into the picture after a cyborg-killing machine known as a terminator successful completes his mission in killing John. From that point on, Connor continues to hunt and destroy these machines as they make their appearance in present-day earth from the future.

During her one-person war, Connor and an enhanced human, Grace (Mackenzie Davis), work to protect humanity’s future leader, Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), from a new terminator, a Rev-9.

For fans of the Terminator films, there is a lot to celebrate here with the first being the return of James Cameron, who helped write and direct the first two films.

He is a part of the writing team on “Dark Fate” and his influence on crafting and direction of the narrative shows. It stays true to the core of the Terminator story, where humans fight to survive and with good overcoming evil.  

“Dark Fate” provides enough back story to give its audience enough time to connect with its characters but not too much to forget that it is an action movie and not a drama.

The action sequences in this film are smartly done and come off as a well-coordinated dance. There were a lot of classic elements like car chases and gunfights but “Dark Fate” takes it up another level with unique locations as backdrops. Hint: One takes place on an Airforce C-5 Galaxy cargo plane.

The action in “Dark Fate” drives the story forward and keeps the audience engaged at the same time. From the moment the story starts to appear on the screen it commands your attention, telling you to watch. While I did like 2003’s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” “Dark Fate” seems to be the true successor to “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.”

The disappointing thing about this movie is not in the story but in the box office returns. Media outlets like “Variety” are calling it a flop, with headlines like “Faces $100 million box office loss.”  Something I’ve never really understood is how poorly written and acted movies from people like Seth Rogen (example: “Sausage Party”) do well while other films, like “Terminator: Dark Fate” that have substance seemingly fail before they hit theaters.

“Terminator: Dark Fate” is a great movie to take in at the theater this weekend. It provides a story that has a heck of a punch. Once you see this film, you’ll “be back” waiting to see what’s in store for Arnold Schwarzenegger and the future of the franchise.

I give “Terminator: Dark Fate” nine out of 10 stars. It is rated R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity. “Dark Fate” runs 128 minutes.

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