Terminator: Dark Fate is a 2019 American science fiction action film directed by Tim Miller, with screenplay by David Goyer, Justin Rhodes, and Billy Ray, from a story by James Cameron, Charles H. Eglee, Josh Friedman, Goyer, and Rhodes. Cameron also produced the film, alongside David Ellison. It is the sixth installment in the Terminator franchise, and acts as a direct sequel to The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), while retconning Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009), Terminator Genisys (2015), and the television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008–2009) out of existence.
The film stars Linda Hamilton returning in her role of Sarah Connor and Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his role as a T-800 “Terminator”, reuniting the actors after 28 years. The cast includes Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, and Gabriel Luna as new characters. Set 25 years after the events of Terminator 2, the film sees the machines sending an advanced Terminator (Luna), designated Rev-9, back in time to 2020 to eliminate Dani Ramos (Reyes), whose fate is connected to the future. The Resistance also send Grace (Davis), an augmented soldier, back in time to defend Dani, while they are joined by Sarah Connor (Hamilton) and an aging T-800 Terminator (Schwarzenegger).
Filming for Terminator: Dark Fate took place from June to November 2018 in Hungary, Spain, and the United States. Distributed by Paramount Pictures in North America and 20th Century Fox in other territories, the film was theatrically released in the United States on November 1, 2019. It received mixed reviews from critics, who believed it to be an improvement over previous installments and praised the performances and action sequences, but criticized the recycled plot points and narrative choices. However, the film also became a box-office bomb,having grossed $204 million against an estimated production budget of $185–196 million. With a break-even point of $450–480 million, projected losses for the studios involved are estimated to reach $130 million.
In 1998, three years after averting the threat of Skynet, Sarah and John Connor live a life of peace in Livingston, Guatemala, when they come under attack by a T-800 Terminator. Sent back through time by Skynet prior to its erasure, the Terminator murders John before disappearing.
Twenty-two years later, an advanced Terminator, called Rev-9, is sent back in time to Mexico City, to murder Daniella “Dani” Ramos, while a cybernetically-enhanced soldier, Grace, is sent to protect her. The Rev-9, disguised as her father, infiltrates the assembly plant where Dani and her brother Diego work, but is thwarted by Grace, who escapes with the siblings. The Rev-9, revealing its ability to split itself into its cybernetic endoskeleton and shapeshifting liquid metal exterior, pursues them, killing Diego and cornering Grace and Dani. However, Sarah arrives and temporarily disables the Terminator with explosives.
Dani, Grace, and Sarah retreat to a motel so Grace can recover. Sarah reveals that she found them because in the years since John’s death, she has received encrypted messages detailing the locations of arriving Terminators; each ending with “For John”. Grace notes that neither Skynet nor John exists in her timeline. Instead, humanity is threatened by an AI called Legion, designed for cyberwarfare. Legion took control of servers worldwide and, in desperation, humanity tried to neutralize it with nuclear weapons, resulting in a nuclear holocaust and the AI creating a global network of machines to terminate the human survivors.
Grace traces Sarah’s messages to Laredo, Texas. Barely evading the Rev-9 and the authorities, they arrive at their source, where they discover the same T-800 that murdered John. Having fulfilled its mission and with Skynet no longer existing, the T-800 was left aimless, and through learning it developed self-awareness. During that time, it learned from humanity and developed a conscience, taking the name “Carl” and adopting a human family. After learning how its actions affected Sarah, and being able to detect temporal displacements, Carl decided to forewarn her of arriving Terminators to give her purpose. Carl explains that he knew that day would come, and makes preparations to destroy the Rev-9. Sarah begrudgingly agrees to work together for Dani’s sake. Anticipating the Rev-9’s arrival, Carl bids its family farewell and tells them to escape.
In order to do so, they seek out a military grade EMP from an acquaintance of Sarah’s. The Rev-9 catches up with them, forcing them to steal a C-5 Galaxy to escape, though the EMP’s are destroyed in the resulting shootout. During the flight, Grace further reveals that Dani becomes the future founding commander of the Resistance, as well as her rescuer. Sarah and Carl realize that they were fated to meet Grace and Dani. The Rev-9 boards their airplane by using a KC-10 Extender and temporarily subdues Carl, forcing Grace, Sarah and Dani to jump from the plane into a river near a hydro-power plant, with Carl and the Rev-9 following suit.
Bludgeoned, the group makes a stand inside. In the ensuing battle, Carl and Grace force the Rev-9 into a spinning turbine, which causing an explosion that critically damages the two Terminators and mortally wounds Grace. The surviving Rev-9 then incapacitates Sarah. Before Grace dies, she tells Dani to use her power source as an EMP to destroy the Rev-9. Dani battles the damaged Rev-9 herself, with it getting the upper hand, but Carl reactivates and restrains it, allowing Dani to stab it with Grace’s power source. Carl drags itself and the Rev-9 over a ledge and tells Sarah “For John”, right before the power core explodes, destroying them both.
Sometime later, Dani and Sarah watch over a ten-year old Grace at a park with her family, the former determined to avert Grace’s death. Sarah then tells Dani she needs to get ready, with Grace watching as the pair drives off.