For the fourth time in a row, fans were given a new Terminator movie that failed to live up to the impossibly high bar set by James Cameron’s first two installments. Even with Cameron back onboard as producer and co-writer, Terminator: Dark Fate may have signaled the final nail in the coffin for the stuttering sci-fi franchise, after disappointing at the box office and losing up to $100 million in the process.
It may have scored the best reviews of any new entry since Judgment Day, but that didn’t qualify Dark Fate as a great movie on its own merits. There were some good ideas in the story, but overall it marked yet another formulaic actioner, albeit one carried by the charisma of legacy players Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton.
Hamilton’s return in particular was almost unanimously praised, as she seamlessly stepped back into the grizzled and world-weary shoes of Sarah Connor as she once again attempted to thwart the uprising of the machines. However, the decision to straight-up murder savior of humanity John Connor in Dark Fate’s opening scene proved hugely controversial, and in an interview, the actress admitted that she knew the decision wouldn’t go down well with some fans.
“This is going to upset a lot of people, and a lot of the fanbase who just think that it has to remain true to the first two stories. The whole concept of Terminator, that John Connor is the hope for the future of mankind, and then to have him cut down like that. I think it’s going to upset a lot of people.”
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Director Tim Miller has been pretty vocal about the disagreements that he had with James Cameron during production of Terminator: Dark Fate, but it isn’t clear who made the call to kill off the character who had essentially been the driving force behind the franchise’s entire narrative. Instead, the scene was played for shock value to subvert audience expectations, and John Connor was simply replaced by Natalia Reyes’ Dani Ramos, who played exactly the same savior role throughout the rest of the movie anyway.