Spoiler alert: What follows discusses the ending of “Terminator: Dark Fate.” If you don’t want to know, say aloud in a bad Austrian accent, “I’ll be back,” see “Dark Fate,” and then return to reading this.
Did sunglasses-free Terminator, aka Carl, complete his more-human turn in “Terminator: Dark Fate”?
No, of course not. There would be movie-theater riots if Arnold Schwarzenegger, 72, didn’t kick some Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) butt in the end. Even playing the stronger, faster Terminator model, Luna says Schwarzenegger wanted to take the blows during their many screen battles.
“I mean, (Schwarzenegger) just came out of heart surgery. And if I was kind of (weakly) hitting him, he’d be like, ‘Come on! Do It!’ ” Luna says. “He was strong, and he was there to mix it up.”
Let’s discuss what went down in the “Dark Fate” ending.
This is your last warning to stop.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘Terminator’:He’ll teach you how to live your life
Arnold Schwarzenegger is equally adept with guns and draperies as the returning T-800 in “Terminator: Dark Fate.”
“Dark Fate” begins with a fatal epilogue from 1991’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” with Schwarzenegger’s Terminator killing future rebel leader John Connor (Edward Furlong) as Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) looks on, devastated. Clearly, Sarah is eager to kill the evolved, Corona-with-lime-drinking Carl when they meet up again.
They come to an uneasy peace brokered by enhanced human super-soldier Grace (Mackenzie Grace) for the sake of stopping the Rev-9 from killing the new person destined to be the future’s resistance leader, Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). In the Rev-9 final battle, each crush and get crushed.
The injured Grace sacrifices any chance of living by giving up her personal power source, the only weapon strong enough to stop the Rev-9. Ramos steps up into her future leader role by overcoming her fear and pulling the power source out of Grace’s human guts.
It’s Sarah who rouses the injured Carl to aid Dani in the final battle moments. But, like any true emerging hero, Dani faces off with the Rev-9 exoskeleton solo, dealing a lights-out shot with Grace’s power source.
The whole crew: Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), Carl (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Dani (Natalia Reyes) and Grace (Mackenzie Davis) get ready for action.
“That whole end sequence was designed to strip away Dani’s protectors,” says director Tim Miller. “She had to face the dragon alone and strike the mortal blow. Arnold is part of it. But it has to be Dani killing that thing.”
Schwarzenegger’s Terminator grabs the still-lethal Rev-9 and pulls him into a deep pit, which mortally wounds him as the fall pushes spikes through his chest. But he holds down the Rev-9, which tries to escape to complete its kill mission – even gruesomely ripping off Carl’s skin in an attempt to remove the hold. It’s gnarly. But Miller says he had originally filmed more explicit skin-ripping shots.
“We had to walk the line between gross and horrific,” he says. “We had shot the Rev-9 ripping the flesh off (Carl’s) arm, and it was hanging like a big piece of jerky. But we took that out. That’s where we drew the line.”
Carl’s hold never falters, keeping Rev-9’s final circuit overload and explosion from impacting Dani and Sarah.
Gabriel Luna is an advanced Terminator Rev-9 in “Dark Fate.”
Living was never going to be an option for Carl.
“He knows he’s going to die,” Miller says. “He can’t shoot a kid in the chest and live. I don’t care what your redemption arc is, you don’t get away with that. He can’t live.”
Carl does make peace with Sarah for killing her son, as his last words are “For John.” She managed to call Schwarzenegger’s machine Carl by the end, as well.
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“Carl wants to help save Dani, but the person he really owes the debt to is Sarah. And that’s the debt he’s discharging by destroying this thing,” Miller says.
All the Terminators are terminated, leaving only Dani and Sarah to ride off together in a Jeep to a still-scary future, a scene playing off the solo ride Sarah takes at the end of the first “Terminator.”
But don’t count out Schwarzenegger from coming back.
“This particular version of the Terminator has to atone for his sins and had to die,” Miller says. “But he dies in every movie. You can’t keep Arnold out of a ‘Terminator’ movie. Who knows what he’s going to do?”