Six years since TERMINATOR: SALVATION disappointed and with seemingly few major events in John Connor's life left to explore, the franchise has gone fan-fic with TERMINATOR GENISYS, which quickly CTRL-ALT-DELs the previous timeline (presumably TERMINATOR: HARD RESET was voted down, but I’ll continue to imagine it was a close-run thing) and throws in mash-ups of favourite bits from previous instalments.
Opening in the series’ familiar future, on the eve of victory in the war against the machines John Connor (the ever-reliable Jason Clarke) sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect John’s mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke), but something quickly goes wrong, sending the entire timeline into uncertainty.
In spirit, it’s the closest film in the series to JUDGEMENT DAY. Directed by seasoned TV man Alan Taylor (Game Of Thrones; Mad Men; The Sopranos; Deadwood, but who also got burned on THOR: THE DARK WORLD), GENISYS has its fair share of mistakes, but at times there’s also a pleasing playfulness to it; at times it feels as though the creatives have decided to write their way out of tight spots and budget constraints with ideas rather than continuous reliance on big CG (and on that note, the quality of the effects varies greatly throughout). Schwarzenegger remains comfortable in the role that made him a superstar, around which a few compensatory tweaks have been written to accommodate the ravages of time. Sadly though there’s not much here for Courtney and E. Clarke, and virtually any scenes they get between the action fall flat. Meanwhile the always welcome appearance of 27 percenter J.K. Simmons is all too brief, either the victim of post-production trimming, or his character being seeded in the hope of future recall.
How much you enjoy TERMINATOR GENISYS will most likely boil down to two things: 1) How low your expectations are after SALVATION, and 2) How much of the wholly spoilerific publicity campaign has landed on your eyes (let this be a lesson to the marketeers of summer juggernauts that less can still be more – sometimes surprise can be a wonderful thing, and audiences don’t need to know everything about a movie before we’ve paid for it). Personally, I was fortunate enough to have avoided the worst of these and enjoyed GENISYS as a middling entry to the series, marginally more so than RISE OF THE MACHINES.