Director: Alan Taylor
Writer: Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier
Sequel to: Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyi, Matt Smith, Courtney B. Vance, Byung-hun Lee
Seen on: 21.7.2015
Since the machines have taken over the world, John Connor (Jason Clarke) has been leading the human resistance. To make sure that he can actually do that, John has to make sure that he is actually born as the machines sent a killer back in time to kill his mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke) before she gives birth. So John sends his best friend Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) in the past as well, giving him specific instructions on how things are. But as Kyle arrives in the past, he finds that it doesn’t actually match John’s memories. So he has to figure out how to navigate this changed past.
After Terminator Salvation, I was prepared for this film to be extra bad. So I packed my trusted bottle of alcohol and steeled myself for atrociousness. But while there could have been a second bottle of alcohol, easy, I found that I was honestly entertained by Terminator Genisys, despite the astonishing amount of stupidity contained within. Or maybe because of it.
The film’s two biggest problems were actually not its fault. One was that the trailer give away the biggest plot twist of the film (honestly, whoever approved that trailer should seriously reconsider their life choices) and the other was that the obsession with John Connor that has been canonically established doesn’t actually make sense: a resistance never hinges on just one person. If John Connor was never born, another person would crop up and start to resist. Nobody is that indispensable (actually, Terminator Genisys itself proves that in the end). But in any case that’s the framework the film has to move within and it does so quite admirably.
Don’t get me wrong, the film is still not particularly smart and it still has issues, like the absolutely creepy way Kyle is obsessed with Sarah even before meeting her. John might know that Kyle is his father, but Kyle doesn’t know that he is supposed to feel anything for Sarah. In fact, he looks up to John, who is around 15 or 20 years his senior as a father figure (making John his own grandfather, kinda). And if I think of the parents of my (older) friends, it would feel very weird to fall in love with a photo of their younger selves. But anyway. Also not a good thing: the only black persons in the film are basically responsible for the apocalypse, while the only Asian person is an evil robot.
So the film certainly isn’t perfect. But it nicely plays with the old films, especially Terminator 2. And it is funny, most of the time even on purpose – which is 99% due to Arnold Schwarzenegger whose comedic talents were never as well featured as in this film. Plus the action is far from bad. Only the chase with the T-1000 (Byung-hun Lee) left me a little unsatisfied, being both too long (because I wanted to get to the actual story, dammit) and too short (because Byung-hun Lee is awesome) at the same time.
The film leaves openings for a sequel in unanswered questions (in particular: who sent the guardian T-800?) and a moment that may or may not be meaningful, when a bit of the T-1000 drips on Kyle. But it does this in such an understated way that I was unsure whether they are actual openings on purpose or whether it’s been just an oversight. We’ll see, I guess. I hear, they’re already working on the sequel.