Terminator Genisys (2015)

TerminatorJohn Connor’s (Jason Clarke) Resistance has finally won the war, but not before Skynet (Matt Smith) has sent a T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back to the eighties to exterminate his mother and erase him from existence. In response, John sends right-hand man Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and inadvertently father John in the process. An unprecedented interference by Skynet, however, contaminates the timeline, such that Kyle arrives in a past different to that known by his future officer/offspring. Another, reprogrammed T-800 is already in place to neutralise Skynet’s, leaving Kyle to battle a T-1000 also sent back to terminate Sarah. Memories gleaned from the Kyle Reece from this new timeline lead Sarah, Kyle and the T-800 Genisys, a new operating system that is set to go live in 2017. Helpfully, rather than wait for the new millennium, the T-800 has been working on a time machine of their own.

There can’t be many film franchises as unsettled or unintelligible as the Terminator series. Whereas most sagas are mapped out, their sequels shot back-to-back and their casts contracted until the cows come home, Terminator doesn’t seem to know where it’s going from one minute to the next, or whether it has any future at all. James Cameron directed the first two instalments, but by shifting his focus from mother to child and recasting his villain as a hero he did away with much of the usual connecting tissue. Twelve years later Jonathan Mastow recast John Connor and killed off Sarah Connor, and whereas the earlier films played as horror and action movie respectively his veered more towards comedy, but T3 still incorporated itself into the established canon through call-backs and cameos — sadly, however, Earl Boen’s Dr. Peter Silberman hasn’t been seen since. By the time McG’s Terminator: Salvation rolled around in 2009, the franchise was almost unrecognisable.

Now, a further six years, yet another rights kerfuffle and now a failed TV spin-off later, the brand has been liquidated almost as many times as its titular Terminators. Not that that has stopped director Alan Taylor and production company Skydance Productions from promising another new trilogy of films — because being presumptuous has obviously paid off so well in the past. Effectively ignoring the last two films in the series — a la Jurassic World, and for that matter the itself ignored Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles — the film once again seeks to stop Skynet, Cyberdyne, Genisys, or whatnot, necessitating not only a backwards step for the franchise pre-Salvation (the world ended, get over it) but a backwards leap to the 1980s. Closest in tone to the unfairly maligned Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines — a film the production has done everything in its power to distance itself from — Terminator Genisys was presumably just trying to avoid unflattering comparisons. Off-screen at least Judgement Day is finally here, and the fifth instalment has been found wanting. Taylor’s film is the most witless, unintelligible and inept film of the summer so far — and, given the unrelenting transparency of its promotional campaign, one of the most predictable, too. And it has a silly title to boot.

Essentially a soft-reboot, much like JJ Abrams’ Star Trek, the film rewrites the past in a way that aims to be both respectful and revisionist, and ultimately fails on both counts, reading instead as an irreverent rehash. Unlike Abrams’ film, however, the mechanics of this retcon are never really explained, or subsequently justified, meaning that it’s a frustrating experience from start to finish. Who sent the good T-100 back to save Sarah aged 9? Why is the T-1000 suddenly Korean? What exactly is a T-3000 Terminator? Whereas once a killer robot sent back from the future took an entire movie to content with, here they’re killed efficiently and effectively, just not particularly dramatically. Even the sequel’s Big Bad doesn’t seem particularly difficult to defeat, or at least delay, as our heroes seem to have little trouble escaping him every time he conveniently tracks them down, seemingly out of the blue, for the two-hourly explosion to break up the otherwise inexorable exposition. It just all seems so inconsequential, not just because you know that the main characters are more than likely going to survive, but because you know that the actors are probably going to be recast, or their efforts negated somewhere down the line. After all, almost as many actors have now played John Connor as have played James Bond (with five films to 23).

A convoluted mess of coincidences and contrivances, Terminator Genisys is not just confusing, but itself confused. Next time it might simply be easier for John Connor to travel back in time and buy the rights for himself — it won’t stop Skynet, of course, but it might very well save cinema.

1-Star

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Terminator Genisys (2015)

  1. Nostra says:

    I actually really enjoyed this one 🙂

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