I chose the above pic because it kinda looks like Arnie’s contemplating all the mistakes he’s made – including returning for this fucking thing, which looks worse and worse with every new reveal.
One of the weird things about franchise culture is how far a series can drift from its roots, sometimes to the point where the first installment and the latest are so wildly different as to seem almost incomparable. Sometimes, rarely that’s a benefit – see the radically expanding scope of the Fast & Furious movies – but generally it’s a sign that the people with their hands on the tiller don’t have a map.
That’s almost certainly the case here with Terminator: Genisys, which not only craps on everything that made The Terminator good, it makes Terminator 2 look subtle and restrained.
The thing about The Terminator is that, under all the action and cool SF concepts, it’s a very sad movie about sacrifice and fatalism and the inevitability of death and loss. That’s all anchored by Michael Biehn’s portrayal of Reese as a clearly damaged, PSTD-ridden vet, a poorly socialised guy permanently scarred, physically and mentally, by his experiences. This time around, we get rent-a-plank Jai Courtney, a man so bereft of nuance he made Bruce Willis’ last Die Hard performance look good. Even if I’m being too harsh on Courtney, you’d have to dig deep to be able to argue that he can project the kind of vulnerability that made Biehn’s work so memorable
The ongoing convolutions, resets and generally time-travel shenanigans have already robbed the personal sacrifices made by the characters of any concrete meaning, but that can be forgiven in the moment if the performances are any good. Still, this thing just looks like a cartoon to me, a dumbed down remix that lifts ideas and conceits from the series and slams them together without worrying too much about about meaning. It’s common knowledge they’re hoping to spin a new trilogy out of this thing, and the very notion just makes me sad.
Oh, and John Connor’s a cyborg now, an idea so dumb they completely ripped it out of Terminator:Salvation, aka The Worst One So Far.
Terminator: Genisys hits Australian cinemas on July 1.