If the news of a Terminator reboot feels like history repeating itself, then that’s probably because it is. Before its release in 2015, Terminator: Genisys was hailed as a fresh start for the franchise, effectively discarding everything that happened after Terminator 2 and clearing the way for a new trilogy of movies – and possibly a new TV show to boot.
Long before all that, 2008‘s Terminator Salvation was the great new hope for the series – a future-set saga about human resistance fighters versus Skynet. As you’re probably aware, neither Salvation nor Genisys took off as expected.
All of which brings us to the sixth Terminator movie, scheduled for release in late 2019 and intended as another wiping of the slate for the franchise. So what exactly do we know about it so far?
We’re glad you asked…
Terminator 6 Director: Who’s making it?
Following the success of Deadpool, director Tim Miller’s heading up the new Terminator movie which, per this tweet, appears to be simply titled Terminator.
Miller certainly knows how to stage an action scene, but the other big comfort to come from this latest Terminator reboot is that James Cameron’s back as an executive producer. Although he isn’t writing the script (that’s being left to a group of writers that includes David S. Goyer, Josh Friedman and Billy Ray), he’s at least more involved than he was on the last three movies, and appears to be serving as a kind of creative advisor, going by his interview with The Hollywood Reporter last year.
Terminator 6 will also give the franchise a 21st century relevance that Genisys – with its killer apps and so forth – attempted but didn’t exactly pull off. Says Cameron:
“I look at what’s happening now with the emergence of artificial general intelligence equal to or greater than humans’, and you’ve got Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking and others saying that this could be really bad for the survival of the human race. What was science fiction in the ’80s is now imminent. It’s coming over the horizon at us. And there’s been a resurgence of fear and concern about nuclear weapons and so on. So all of these apocalyptic elements are out there.”
Terminator 6 Cast: Who’ll be Back?
As in Terminator: Genisys, Terminator 6 will see Arnold Schwarzenegger return as an ageing T-800; he won’t, thankfully, be playing the soft and cuddly “Pops” character we saw in that movie, though.
According to Cameron himself, all the movies that followed Terminator 2 will be written off as “a bad dream” or events in an alternate timeline.
The big news this time around is that Linda Hamilton is returning to her role as Sarah Connor. Set photos from the production show Hamilton in the same battle-hardened mode we all remember from T2: aviator shades, flack jacket, combat trousers and perma-scowl.
Sarah Connor’s son and savior of humanity John Connor will also be making a return appearance. For a while, we’d heard rumors that Edward Furlong would return to the role as an adult John; it now appears that they were wide of the mark, since it’s more recently emerged that a British child actor named Jude Collie will play the part. Interestingly, set photos show Collie with a remarkably similar haircut to the one Furlong wore in T2 – more on this a bit later.
There’s also a strong possibility that we’ll see younger versions of Schwarznegger’s T-800 in the new movie, just as we did in Salvation and Genisys. Once again, this will likely be achieved with the use of a body double and high-tech, digital face-replacement; we know this because body builder Brett Azar (whose hulking torso was last seen in Genisys) has again been cast as a stand-in for Arnold.
While the Connors and the T-800 will be returning, Terminator 6 doesn’t sound as though it’s a straight continuation of their story. As is often the case with your typical reboot, the next Terminator will be about “handing off the baton to a new generation of characters”, according to James Cameron.
Terminator 6 New Characters
When Terminator was announced last year, one of the stories that emerged was that its producers were looking for a new heroine to lead the film. “We’re starting a search for an 18-something young woman to essentially be the new centrepiece of these stories,” Cameron told THR.
That search seemed to take a long time (to the point where the start of filming was actually delayed), but we now know that the new lead will be played by Colombian actress Natalia Reyes. Her character, at least according to an excerpt from the story put out in a casting call, is named Dani Ramos.
The character profile describes Dani thus:
“Dani Ramos is a young woman in her early 20s from Mexico City. She was brought up in a working class neighbourhood, is independent and believes strongly in family. She’s more street smart than book smart and is a woman who always manages to find a ray of light even in the darkest of circumstances.”
Cast alongside her is Mackenzie Davis (Halt And Catch Fire, Blade Runner 2049), who will play what appears to be a battle-scarred resistance fighter of some kind. Judging by recent set photos, though, her scars are highly unusual, though – geometric, almost like her skin was once cut by some kind of laser. Could she have escaped from Skynet’s clutches?
It’s possible Davis is playing a character named Grace, though this information was likely gleaned from an earlier version of the script. According to THR, she’s a “soldier assassin on a mission”; our best guess? She’s this movie’s equivalent of a Kyle Reese type character – a human soldier assigned to protect heroine Dani Ramos.
And thanks to Variety, we also know who Dani Ramos will be running from: a new Terminator assassin played by Gabriel Luna. What hasn’t yet emerged is what kind of Terminator he’ll be; will he be a more sleek cyborg like Schwarzenegger’s T-800, a mimetic poly-alloy construction like Robert Patrick’s T-1000, or something we’ve never seen before? We’re rather hoping the film’s makers have come up with a new concept that can freshen things up a bit.
In a final bit of noteworthy casting news, we’ve also learned that Diego Boneta will play Dani’s brother. Given the high body count in these movies, we don’t fancy his character’s chances of surviving to the end credits.
Terminator 6 Plot: The Story So Far
As you might expect, the specifics of Terminator 6’s story aren’t exactly easy to come by, but it is possible to join the dots based on bits of news and set photos. It’s already been confirmed that Terminator 6 will follow on from the events of Terminator 2, and there’s a bit of evidence to suggest that it’ll be a direct sequel – that is, it’ll have at least a few scenes that take place in the mid-90s setting of T2: Judgment Day. That there’s a young John Connor (who looks about 11 years old) with a distinctly 90s haircut certainly points to this.
Much of the plot, meanwhile, will take place in Central America; filming began earlier in June, and is currently underway in Spain. Reports tell us that locations there – including a beach and a disused airport – will be dressed to look like places in Mexico and Guatemala. Filming will also reportedly take place in Hungary and the UK.
Set photos taken at a beach location in Almeria, Spain are particularly revealing: they show the remains of a crashed helicopter surrounded by dozens of human skeletons, their bones jutting out of the sand. It’s clear that the bodies have been there for some time, and show distinct echoes of the piles of skulls and bones we saw in the future sequences in The Terminator and T2.
It seems likely, then, that at least part of Terminator 6 will take place after Judgment Day – the point where Skynet became conscious and started its campaign to wipe out humanity. Either that, or we’re barking up the wrong tree and the helicopter was simply carrying a consignment of plastic skeletons when it crashed. We’ll let you be the judge.
Elsewhere, we’ve learned that a disused airport and a section of Spanish road is being used to stage a chase sequence on a Central American highway. Let’s face it, a Terminator movie wouldn’t be the same without at least a couple of decent chase scenes, and the one being filmed in Spain sounds like a big one – local newspaper reports suggest that about 500 people are being employed to help stage it.
Further plot details are currently obscure, though we wouldn’t be surprised if Terminator, with its back-to-basics title, didn’t follow a similar pattern to the first two movies: Dani Ramos as another ordinary-seeming person whose importance in future events makes her the target of an assassin from the future.
We’re just hoping that Terminator 6 learns from Genisys’ mistakes, and avoids the temptation to jump around in time too much. James Cameron’s first two movies may have contained a bit of time travel, but it was a means to an end rather than a key plot device.
With its plot flicking between the future, 1984 and 2017, Genisys felt like a flailing attempt to be all things to all cinema-goers: a PG-13 incarnation of the franchise that could also hook in old fans and an emerging audience in China. As a result, Genisys felt like neither fish nor fowl: it wasn’t dazzlingly ambitious in the way that T2 was, and neither was it as pared-back and nasty as the original Terminator.
If the Terminator franchise is to survive, we’d argue it needs to find its ruthless, relentless mojo again. This doesn’t mean Terminator 6 needs to be some R-rated gore fest, but it arguably does need to bring back some of the intensity and menace that the third, fourth and fifth movies misplaced.
At its best, the Terminator series is about staying one step ahead of a high-tech grim reaper that absolutely will not stop – ever, until its quarry is dead.
Terminator is due out on the 22nd November 2019.