Originally written by Craig Elvy for Screen Rant
Caution: Spoilers ahead for Terminator: Dark Fate
What new Terminators are featured in Terminator: Dark Fate? Positioned as a sequel to Terminator 2: Judgement Day and ignoring the subsequent installments, Dark Fate brings back Linda Hamilton in the role of Sarah Connor and original director James Cameron as a producer and writer. Following the events of Judgement Day, the human apocalypse has been averted and the threat of Skynet eliminated, but fate finds a way of correcting its course and the battle between man and machine has merely been delayed, not prevented.
A major highlight of any Terminator movie is, of course, the titular cyborgs themselves. Beginning with Arnold Schwarzenegger's lone assassin in the 1984 movie, Judgement Day would soon introduce the concept of upgraded machines with new abilities that rendered past models obsolete. Although the later Terminator movies have now been given the retcon treatment, they continued the tradition of reimagining what a Terminator could be and expanding the catalog of machines on the market.
Dark Fate is no different in this regard, and had already exhibited its range of new millennium Terminators in trailer footage. Now the latest entry in the Terminator franchise has arrived, there are perhaps even more new, metallic faces than fans had predicted.
The primary Terminator presence in Dark Fate is provided by Gabriel Luna's menacing Rev-9 model. The main antagonist of the story, the Rev-9 is made by Legion, as opposed to Cyberdyne Systems. Legion is effectively the Skynet replacement after Sarah Connor prevented Cyberdyne's destructive A.I. from ever coming into existence. In a cruel inevitability, mankind created an anti-terror program called Legion which has taken up Skynet's position in the 'wipe out mankind forever' stakes.
Legion sends its latest Terminator model, the Rev-9, back in time to take down a figure of importance to the future human resistance, Dani Ramos, and the machine is just as dogged and tenacious as his predecessors in fulfilling this goal. The Rev-9 evidently has a certain amount of cultural awareness, continuing the evolution in intelligence from the T-800 to the T-1000, and can easily mimic human behavior. Despite making some attempt to remain undetected, it doesn't take much for the Rev-9 to abandon stealth and simply fight his way through any obstacles. Strangely, the Rev-9 does appear to have some willingness to negotiate, so long as its primary objective is achieved.
In terms of power and capabilities, the Rev-9 boasts the same mammoth strength and wicked reflexes as past models, and is damn near indestructible. The technology is a development of Judgement Day's T-1000, as the Rev-9 is able to liquefy into a molten metal and restructure its physical form into seemingly any shape, including fashioning limbs into swords. Unlike the original Terminator, the Rev-9 can regenerate its skin tissue rapidly and can also take the form of another item or person through touch. This Terminator is seen copying the appearance of a shirt found on a washing line (rather than stealing it like in the old days), and can take on the guise of a person after skin contact, although the subject does not escape this process alive. In addition to assimilating appearances, the Rev-9 can also connect to any other form of machinery or computer and absorb the knowledge contained within, but its eye scanner appears relatively unchanged from the classic movies. Perhaps the Rev-9's biggest new feature is the ability to split into two separate entities, and then reforge at will.
The future resistance have found the Rev-9 somewhat susceptible to close-range E.M.P. blasts, and heavy duty firearms and explosives can slow it down temporarily.
CARL - T-800, 101 MODEL
The Arnold Schwarzenegger-looking Terminator in Dark Fate is not a returning incarnation of the iconic cyborg, but an entirely new machine. Like the original T-800 and the T-1000, this model was sent by Skynet from the future to kill John Connor prior to the alteration of the franchise's timeline. Although Skynet ceases to exist, the orders programmed into this T-800 unit remain active, and the Terminator finally catches up with the Connors shortly after the events of Judgement Day, completing his mission.
After finally taking down John Connor, this 101 model (the series of machines modeled in Schwarzenegger's likeness) is left without purpose or direction and is forced to exist in the 20th and 21st centuries alongside the humans of the era. This causes the T-800 to develop something equivalent to a conscience, eventually adopting a family and taking on the name Carl. The uncovering of these emotions is what triggers Carl to side with Sarah Connor and the other protagonists.
Although clearly lagging behind the Rev-9's more advanced capabilities, Carl's power and functions are more or less akin to that of Arnie's Terminator from Judgement Day, including the capacity to learn new information and adapt to his surroundings. Carl's living tissue has aged, giving the Terminator grayish hair and a more weathered appearance than when he first met Sarah Connor.
The predecessors to Gabriel Luna's Rev-9 can be seen during a flashback (flashforward?) sequence that explores Grace's origin story. Set during the future war between humanity and the Legion A.I., Grace's unit is sighted while heading back to base and attacked by a Rev-7. These Terminators have some of the fluidity later units possess, and possess the same cloning power as the Rev-9 but are a little more rudimentary in design, with a less sleek appearance and sharp tentacles. Only featuring in a limited capacity, the full range of the Rev-7's usage isn't necessarily seen in Dark Fate.
Various other Hunter-Killers of the non-humanoid variety are either briefly spotted or mentioned in Dark Fate's future scenes, most notably during Grace's first meeting with the resistance as a young child. Since most of Dark Fate is set in the present-day, the full range of Hunter-Killers Legion has at its disposal isn't clear, but it's highly curious how similar the evolution of Legion mirrors that of Skynet. One of Dark Fate's key story points is that the machine apocalypse was inevitable, but there are still several striking similarities between Skynet's weapons and Legion's, with the Hunter-Killers being one of the most obvious.
NOT A TERMINATOR: GRACE
Prior to Dark Fate's release, it was revealed that Mackenzie Davis' Grace would be a human/machine hybrid playing the role of the "good" Terminator, sent back in time to protect whomever Gabriel Luna's villainous cyborg was trying to kill. While this is indeed Grace's function, the character is not actually a Terminator in the traditional sense at all, and is ultimately revealed to be a human soldier genetically modified with technology. Grace is sent back by the leader of the Resistance to protect Dani from the Rev-9, and could be considered a combination of Kyle Reese and Judgement Day's T-800.
In the future, the human resistance movement has a program whereby they can augment their fighters with cybernetic enhancements. Since Grace only volunteers for the program once she's close to death, it can be assumed that the transformation process is not only highly controversial but incredibly dangerous. With her new upgrades, Grace is powered by a highly volatile energy core and a partial metal endoskeleton, giving her vast increases in strength, speed, defense and reflexes. Grace's eyes have been given analytical capabilities, allowing her to scan for weapons and enemies, and accurately target her long-range attacks. Unlike Terminators, however, Grace requires a regular supply of water to function properly, and after receiving a nasty blow from Terminator: Dark Fate's Rev-9, she relies on a heady cocktail of drugs to keep soldiering forward.
Terminator: Dark Fate is now playing at Regal.