‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Brings Brutal Action and Welcome Inclusion to CinemaCon

Blunt force and a dash of diversity helped “Terminator: Dark Fate” rise to the top of Paramount Pictures’ CinemaCon 2019 presentation on Thursday.

The annual convention of movie theater owners, held in Las Vegas, got a lengthy footage reel from the forthcoming sequel in James Cameron’s famous action franchise. What was instantly clear inside the Colosseum Theater was that director Tim Miller is the hero the IP needed.

The “Deadpool” helmer was so devout to the property that he teared up numerous times and literally stepped out of the spotlight to compose himself, saying, “I think you’ll see that passion up on the big screen.”

The reel opened with franchise newcomer Mackenzie Davis, playing a synthetic intelligence machine, falling naked from the sky like the original’s star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, did in 1984. A canoodling couple comes to her rescue until police show up to the bizarre scene. Davis springs to action, tossing the cops around like rag dolls and terrorizing her saviors in the process.

Davis rocks a buzzed and angular haircut. Her rakish frame is clad simply in a white tank and cargo pants. The androgyny the character is giving off is a dog whistle to LGBTQ identities, whether Paramount and Skydance Media know it or not. That’s especially true for an actress like Davis, who earned a permanent spot in the queer canon with her acclaimed “San Junipero” episode of “Black Mirror,” a love story between the actress’ character and Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s. We also get a hardcore Linda Hamilton cameo here, rocking a motorcycle jacket and shooting off surface-to-air missiles.

Taking it a step further, the actual terminator is Mexican-American star Gabriel Luna (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), and Colombian actress Natalia Reyes has a significant supporting role. The latter expressed her gratitude for the inclusive hires, saying it was “the most important part” of the presentation and reflects a changing Hollywood.

On more superficial levels, the action sequences inspired cheers in some and breathlessness in others. Luna is not the sole Terminator in this project, as Schwarzenegger does return to stir up some trouble.

The actor and former California governor said the film changed his life nearly 30 years ago, and gave him endless slogans for political campaigns (“Terminate Global Warming!” he yelled to the audience).

Before he left the stage, Miller teased an upgrade to the synthetic menaces of this cinematic world: they can multiply.

“One cool new feature, he can split so he’s twice as deadly,” Miller said, practically jumping up and down.

Miller, Davis, and the rest of the crew invade theaters Nov. 1.

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