FILM: Terminator Genisys

Certificate: PG-13
Running Time: 126 mins
Director: Alan Taylor
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Country: USA

Thirty-one years after the first Terminator movie, and a successful period as Governor of California Schwarzenegger is back in the leathers in what James Cameron dubbed “the natural sequel to T2”.  Sending Kyle Reese (Courtney) back through time to protect his mother, John Connor takes the war against the machines to 1984 but something in the timeline has altered the future and what was once a timid Sarah Connor (played by Linda Hamilton in 1984) has become the hard-edged Connor we know and lurve, played by Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones, Dom Hemingway).
Arnold is finally arrested for Batman & Robin

Taylor’s movie starts off incredibly playful.  The director and his cast & crew do godly work in recreating the first ten minutes of the original movie with their new cast as time appears as we remember it until it doesn’t.  I defy anyone not to feel a little giddy as Reese skulks through the department store with the LAPD hot on his heels.  That giddiness is transformed into a crack-like euphoria as young Arnie walks up to three punks and demands their clothes only for our cybernetic hero to turn up and pick a fight with the T100.

Much like Jurassic World, Genisys holds up several love letters to Cameron’s original two movies.  Fortunately for its own identity it leaps forward from the period piece before it got bogged down in the nostalgia.  Genisys gives me hope for Suicide Squad as it’s the best performance I’ve send from Jai Courtney (though an Oscar winning performance might never be enough to wash away the taste of A Good Day to Die Hard).  He’s got moments of intensity, yet a playful funny side.  Emilia Clarke does a really cracking job as Sarah Connor.  Yes, nobody will ever be able to erase Linda Hamilton.  It is and will forever be her role; she embodied everything that’s brilliant about the character but Emilia adds a delicate touch into the childhood that Connor lost.  There’s a beautiful trauma to her life; peppered with sadness and brutality that has surely arrested her development.  She’s come out saying there’s no more Sarah Connor in her future, which is a shame as there’s room there to really explore the character and she’s a good enough actor to be able to do that while explosions are going off all around her.  Arnold really plays with the role of “Pops”, the Terminator who saved and raised Connor from the age of 9.  His comedy timing is beautiful while at the same time never really undermining the character in the way that Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines did. 
He's not banging the plug socket.  He's charging.  He's a machine.

The visual effects are strong.  There are definite moments when you can see the working out, especially with the younger Arnold, but it doesn’t take anything away from the film.  In fact it actually feels like another nod to the original (think about the bathroom, eyeball removal scene).

The problem with the film is that it’s safe.  Everything is safe.  You know that everyone will be OK so a lot of the action doesn’t land the same way it should; or it would if it was the first in a line rather than the fifth film to date.  Also some of the cause and effect from the time travel doesn’t quite match up.  For me this is a big deal as any time there’s a time travel narrative I interrogate the movie.  Regardless of suspension of disbelief there are two, maybe three different schools of thought for time travel.  You pick one and you run with it; time isn’t a pick ‘n’ mix.  Don’t cheat the audience that way.
Jai, Bruce Willis is on the phone.  He wants to talk Die Hard 6.  This one takes place during a vacation on the moon.

All in all, Terminator Genisys works incredibly well as the “third” movie the franchise deserves.  I’m more than happy to forget Rise of the Machines and Salvation.  Both films do more to weaken than advance the “universe”.  It’s a shame Genisys didn’t make the money everyone involved was hoping it would.  It’s actually a pretty decent movie.  It’s smart in places, funny in others.  There’s a ton of action set-pieces not to mention heart.


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