STARRING: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke, Lee Byung-hun, J.K Simmons and Matt Smith
John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor, but when he arrives in 1984, nothing is as he expected it to be.
Terminator Genisys places us in 2029 where the leader of the Resistance, John Connor, launches a final offensive against Skynet having one group tackle their main defines grid and another lead by him and Kyle Reese to destroy Skynet’s fail safe weapon, a time machine hidden at a remote storage facility. Realising that they’re too late and that Skynet has sent back a T-800 to the year 1984 to kill his mother Sarah Connor, Reese volunteers and goes back in time to protect her and ensure that John lives on. A certain moment however causes a time alerting event, placing Kyle Reese back in 1984 but not in a timeline that we know.
Terminator Genisys is now the fifth instalment in the franchise, the third film done after the James Cameron classics and truth be told, this in my mind is the best sequel outside of T1 and T2…..though that should tell you something about the other two. The first act of the film, which starts off set in the future with the final assault on Skynet is actually really well done and given an epic scale that we’ve always wanted to see and yet we still, briefly, even though it goes well for them that John Connor fails in preventing the T-800 from going back. I like the moment when Reese is sent back to 1984 we get the nods and almost shot for shot sequences from the original Terminator film redone in this new timeline, which sees the T-800 taking on a much older T-800 and also having a T-1000 who has arrived in this timeline to kill Kyle Reese. What’s more interesting is that Sarah Connor is not the Sarah Connor we know in the timeline of 1984, but already the battle hard Sarah Connor that we know from the 1995 timeline and that the T-800 (pops as she likes to call it/him?) is her ‘Guardian’, in which he was sent back in time to 1973 to stop a T-1000 from terminating her and since then has been training her to face her destiny and has knowledge about Skynet, Judgement Day and Reese’s role in being her protector.
It’s from then on however that the film takes a time jump (thanks to another machine created by the Guardian and Sarah) 2017 that things start to get messy. Primarily I get that since they have two more of these films to pop out to continue from this film before they lost the rights (and allegedly return to James Cameron?) why they’ve gone with the alternative timeline take from what we’ve known and stayed with for the best part of twenty years, so going with the ‘plot twist’ that they went with here as to who the main villainous Terminator is, I bought it though I was extremely pissed at the time that they showed it in the trailers. You can avoid them online sure but stuck in the cinema and it comes on you have nowhere to run. The other thing that worked n terms of the story was the bond between Sarah Connor and the T-800 Guardian, I just felt it more so than say the relationship between John and the T-800 in Terminator 2 as they’ve built a lot of time spent together and see how her calling him ‘pops’ humanises him to her and also how her interacts with her. Arnold Schwarzenegger is still the best performer from the film for me, though he spends more time giving exposition of time travel than getting involved in action scenes but he’s still the heart and soul of this film. That’s mainly because here Kyle Reese is without a soul here as he’s played by Jai Courtney and believe it or not, I know it’s the now thing to bash the guy (repeatedly) for his performances but I think he does fine with the material that he has, it’s just that the material is weak. The original Terminator film had Kyle Reese (played by Michael Biehn) is a hard as nails soldier that helps inspire Sarah to turn from a waitress to a soldier herself preparing to prevent Judgement Day and here that purpose of the character is completely stripped….and he stands around confused, bewildered by the timeline he’s in. Although for me she initial came off as a Linda Hamilton impression at the beginning, Emilia Clarke done well in the role as Sarah Connor as the film progressed. Jason Clarke however just didn’t work for me as John Connor and I really like him as an actor, it just didn’t fit. I’ve been told that the J.K Simmons and Matt Smith roles are meant to have greater influence in the sequels ahead yet here they’re underused, though Simmons does well in the role that he’s in whereas Smith is barely in it.
The action sequences are done well but there’s almost a certain numbness to it like we’ve seen it all before and the edits are somewhat generic (bus sequence while good, would’ve been more impressive in one shot as an example) cuts of the action, the script has the film trying to accomplish too much for it’s own good with running plot points that aren’t explained to us the viewer other than we’ve just resting on the fact that there’s two sequels lined up and they plan to have these films as a standalone trilogy that maybe they’ll be explained in the sequel. The final act is anti-climatic in what it’s trying to achieve and especially since the end credits scene somewhat renders everything that happened irrelevant, it’s a fun time at the cinema with a different take on the Terminator timeline that badly needs a redo.
The best of the sequels outside the James Cameron classics with a good performance from Arnold Schwarzenegger with a strong opening that get to complicated for it’s own good as the film progressed in too many plot points/questions left unanswered. Good action sequences though maybe not memorable. 6/10