After the disappointing sequels of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation, director, Alan Taylor and writers Laeta Kalogrids and Patrick Lussier try to restore this iconic franchise back to its former glory, with Terminator: Genisys.
So how does one bring back a thirty year old franchise to its former glory and rope in today’s audience? Well, if you’re the team of Taylor, Kalogrids and Lussier, you do two things. First, you bring back action icon, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as everyone’s favourite T-800. Second, you take a page right out of Star Trek, another sci-fi icon, and alter the time line while maintaining key points from the first two installments. For me, this is the gutsiest move since changing Schwarzenegger from the villain to hero in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
In Terminator Genisys, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) volunteers to step into a time machine and save John Connor’s (Jason Clarke) mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) from the evil T-800, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger who was sent back to the year 1984 to kill Sarah Connor in order to ensure that, John Connor, the leader of resistance is never born. As Kyle Reese gets transported to the past, he witnesses Skynet in human form; played by Matt Smith of Dr. Who Fame; attack John Connor and thus changing the time line.
In this new time line, Sarah Connor has been raised by The Terminator himself and to whom she lovingly refers to as “Pops”. Pops prepares Sarah from the beginning for the inevitable fight with Genisys/Skynet along with newly recruited Kyle Reese. Together they must stop Genisys/Skynet from going live and starting Judgement Day.
This is an entertaining summer movie however it still comes nowhere near the awesomeness of Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day films. Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers a great performance in Genisys, proving without a shadow of a doubt that, he is and always will be, The Terminator. Emilia Clarke isn’t bad as Sarah Connor and there’s a great chemistry between her and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Another surprise comes from Academy award winner J.K. Simmons, who steals every scene he is in as Officer O’Brien. Unfortunately, Jason Clarke and Jai Courtney who play John Connor and Kyle Reese respectively, add very little to their characters or to the film.
As entertaining as the film is, I do have additional complaints as well. First of all, some of the plot points are never fully explained (like who sent The Terminator/T-800/ Pops to protect Sarah Connor in the first place). Second, the action sequences never really come together which to me reduces the tension between our heroes and antagonist.
But my biggest complaint however, stems from the film’s marketing. One trailer gave away an incredible piece of information regarding John Conner that really could have given Genisys a, WTF, moment for the audience when watching it for the first time. Instead, that scene fell flat, ruining the momentum of the film….I hate spoilers!!!
All in all, Terminator: Genisys is a decent re-entry into the franchise for new viewers but definitely lacks the core elements from the first two installments which make it a difficult watch for diehard fans.