More playful than impactful, Terminator Genisys attempts to find its own place within the narrative while paying homage to its predecessors.
Since Terminator 2: Judgment Day, one of the greatest films of all-time, there has been a couple of attempts to continue the Terminator narrative. T3: Rise of the Machines (2003) has Arnie attempting to save John Connor from the latest killing machine while Terminator Salvation has John Connor attempting to infiltrate Skynet to save the world. So here we are at Genisys, where we can assume that all of this has been thrown into the garbage. Another Terminator story, another actor playing John Connor, another underwhelming sequel.
The film does not lack an idea or two, far from it. If anything Terminator Genisys tries to do too much in attempting to provide an intriguing alternate telling of the events of Terminator 2. Too many bits and bobs are spoken of and are suddenly gone. A strong start narrated by Jai Courtney’s Kyle Reese is the beginning of a convoluted mess that attempts to be smarter than it is.
I will not claim to understand a single bit of what was going on in the film, nor anything to do with the theory of time travel. All I know is that throughout most time travel films I am left scratching my head trying to understand the path that has been taken and what will happen next. Terminator Genisys is no different. The reasoning for why certain characters are where and how is not really fleshed out with great detail, and that may be for the best .
The casting of the film is inspired. Jason Clarke and Jai Courtney play alongside Arnie as John Connor and Kyle Reese respectively and both don’t do much wrong being fairly inspired choices. Emilia Clarke attempts and succeeds in a very good Linda Hamilton impersonation even with the outfit to match. Clarke, Khaleesi in Game of Thrones, brings a mix of the vulnerability and authority to a story that lacks any kind of direction.
Alan Taylor, most recently the director of Thor: The Dark World, does a nice job in making moments of excitement. A getaway in a helicopter comes to mind as a standout in what is otherwise a fairly nondescript bunch of things that attempt to bring together the most difficult concept of all, time travel. The action is there albeit same-y, but there are moments of wow factor.
Terminator Genisys tries really hard, don’t get me wrong, 10/10 for effort. The casting is great and Arnies presence is as delightful as ever, a comedic portrayal of a classic action hero that made him such a star. None of this can save what can only be described as a mess of a story that lacked any kind of impact, serving as a wacky vehicle to have a reimagining of a story that didn’t require it. It’s fun in parts and offers snippets but will leave you wanting more.
The start of what could be a painfully drawn out possible trilogy.