When I was about seven or so, I attended a baton competition in Orlando, Florida that granted all of the attendees a day pass to Universal Studios. The park had recently opened the "Terminator 2: 3D: Battle Across Time" attraction, which meant the park was covered in advertisements with spine-chilling imagery of the T-1000 staring into my soul, and a handful of prominently displayed, life-size Terminators that I assume were added solely to scar me for life. We had to pass by the attraction to get to another side of the park, and I just stood frozen in my tracks. I had seen both "The Terminator" and "T2: Judgment Day" at this point (thanks, mom and dad!), but seeing a Terminator right before my eyes immediately destroyed the safe distance provided by the movies. The damn thing looked way too real for comfort, and I totally freaked out.
Now, well into my 30s, I've forged a career in film analysis focusing heavily on horror, sci-fi, exploitation, and all things genre … and yet one glimpse of a Terminator without its rubbery, human chassis will instantly transport me back to being an elementary schooler wearing fake eyelashes and glitter hairspray after a competition and begging my mom to walk around the Terminators just in case they moved. People joke about being "scarred for life," but Terminators will forever be my personal kryptonite. I can't explain it, but there's just something about them that immediately taps into the fear receptors of my brain and makes me all sweaty and nervous.
All of this is to say that I'm uniquely qualified to determine the effectiveness of a Terminator, and Gabriel Luna's Rev-9 in "Terminator: Dark Fate" is the scariest damn Terminator since Robert Patrick's T-1000.
The Rev-9 Is Nightmare Fuel
By design, the Rev-9 is the scariest goddamn Terminator on the market. The model has a traditional, solid carbon-based endoskeleton complete with the unsettling skelly smile and piercing red eyes that Terminators are known for possessing. The outer sheath, however, is made of an advanced mimetic polyalloy, allowing for a more convincing, human appearance and the ability to liquefy and split into two independent units. Not only do you have to worry about the metal skeleton chasing you down, but you also have to worry about an unblinking Gabriel Luna coming at you like a bat out of hell.
Its advanced abilities to mimic also allows the Rev-9 to be more efficient when interacting with humans, choosing to copy clothing rather than killing someone to take their wardrobe and thus leaving a trail of carnage. The Rev-9 can also use intellectual negotiation tactics, which means they've adapted enough to learn how to manipulate. These aren't just hulking, unstoppable robots from the future, they're as if the ChatGPT bot could produce stabbing arms to shred you to pieces while also committing psychological warfare. No shade to Arnold Schwarzenegger or his Cyberdyne Systems Model 101/T-800 model, but the Rev-9 is in a class of its own.
Perhaps scariest of all, the Rev-9 was designed to withstand one hell of a beating. Gunfire? Blunt force trauma? Free falling from great heights? Doesn't matter. The Rev-9 is ready to get back up and continue on its mission. Not to mention, it can jump higher, run faster, more effectively dodge projectiles, and recover faster than any of the models that came before it. And people had the audacity to say "Terminator: Dark Fate" was "mid"? Get out of town with that nonsense.
Gabriel Luna Was Channeling Robert Patrick
During the press tour of "Terminator: Dark Fate," /Film writer William Bibbiani spoke with Gabriel Luna for Bloody Disgusting about taking on the role of the Rev-9. During the interview, Luna admitted that his performance was greatly inspired by Robert Patrick, who famously played the T-1000 with such commitment that he learned how to rapid-fire guns without blinking. "I wanted to honor [Robert Patrick's] performance," said Luna. "There were obvious similarities in the characters, so there should be obvious threads that interweave in all of our performances. It should run through all of us."
One of the most easily identifiable connections is in the way Luna had the Rev-9 run, which distinctly resembled Patrick's trademark sprint. "I was very focused on that. It should be a sprinter's run. It should be very efficient and very tight," Luna said. "The hands open, the way sprinters run, the head tilted in pursuit? All of that was there with Robert, so if it ain't broke don't fix it, man. Just incorporate that and weave it into what you're doing."
After the cold open with Sarah Connor, "Terminator: Dark Fate" immediately kicks into high action with a showdown between Grace (Makenzie Davis) and the Rev-9, who is pursuing Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). Grace tries to take down the Rev-9, but the machine is relentless. He splits to allow the endoskeleton to drive a truck while his human shell continues to do battle, his arms turn into giant metal blades, and he is dragged across the highway without issue before liquefying and reforming in the driver's seat of a car, only to run over the owner without even flinching.
From Terminator To Tommy Miller
If there's any other evidence that Gabriel Luna's performance as the Rev-9 is impressive, look no further than his performance as Tommy Miller on HBO's "The Last of Us." As Tommy, Luna is filled with so much warmth, living in his little communist utopia with a hot wife and a baby on the way. He's got well-conditioned hair, neatly pressed denim button-ups, and knows his way around a rocks glass. It's probably why so many people didn't realize the actor had previously played a Terminator because the performances are so wildly different. It's hard to imagine the man behind Tommy Miller playing such a relentless villain, but that's how good Gabriel Luna is.
Obviously no disrespect to Robert Patrick, but the man's career has been loaded with awful people and intimidating antagonists, playing to his T-1000 strengths. Gabriel Luna, on the other hand, went from playing the scariest Terminator in 20 years to a man so beloved people are already writing fanfiction about him. Add this to his spectacular performances as Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider on Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" and Tony Bravo on "Matador" and it's clear the man can do it all.
Happy that Gabriel Luna kid is gettinf his salutations as Tommy Miller, he was a also a greatly underrated Terminator. pic.twitter.com/YBgvS4iaB7
— Timo Tjahjanto (@Timobros) February 21, 2023
And if any more defense is needed, master director Timo Tjahjanto ("Headshot," "The Night Comes For Us," "Killers") recently shouted out Luna's performance in "Terminator: Dark Fate," and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone willing to disagree with the man who gave us the "Safe Haven" segment of "V/H/S/2." Tjahjanto shared his thoughts with a gif of Luna during the Border Patrol prison escape sequence, which is even more intense than the initial highway showdown.
Gabriel Luna is a perfect Uncle Tommy, but he's also a terrifyingly awesome Terminator that deserves more praise.
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The post The Last of Us Star Gabriel Luna Played the Most Underrated Terminator of All Time appeared first on /Film.