Since The Terminator, I have anticipated the arrival of a sequel that will extend the thrills of that excellent first movie.
Terminator 2 just about managed it, Terminator 3 was woeful and the Sarah Connor Chronicles just didn’t do it for me. Then along comes Terminator: Salvation.
Having seen the Bond franchise get reinvented and reinvigorated, I had high hopes for another Terminator instalment. Even when I saw that McG would be at the helm, I figured that perhaps he too was looking for reinvention. Perhaps Salvation code be the keyword for everyone involved. With Christian Bale onboard, it did seem as though this could be moving in the right direction. [I, personally, would have loved to have seen a similar dark and foreboding movie to the Dark Knight.]
Alas, no. That was not be. If anything, McG confirmed himself as a name to avoid when seen on the credits. Bale seemed to get more air time for his infamous rant than actually as John Connor. And the reinvention just didn’t happen. If anything, it carried on from where Terminator 3 left off. Except this time, it had delusions of grandeur as it appears that it tries to deal with the conflicts felt by a man half human and half machine.
From the opening scenes, we are aware of what is going on and, unfortunately, where this is going. It then seems to be a case of waiting for the movie to catch up with the audience, as we are already miles ahead.
Sam Worthington is the real star of the show and, it must be said, he does at least seem to be really trying. He throws himself into the role with gusto. Yet, even with all of his effort, if anything the film surrounding him lets him down. Bale seems so detached from the whole movie that you could be forgiven for thinking that he filmed all of his scenes separately to anyone else. It looks like he’s not really feeling it, which also led me to believe that perhaps his rant was his frustration at being signed up on a sinking ship. A ship I believe he has signed up to for at least one more voyage.
Then we have Anton Yelchin, of whom I have read that he studied Michael Biehn’s performance in The Terminator to try and get his characterisation as accurate as possible. Unfortunately, this was a complete waste. As soon as he appeared and spoke on screen, I was left wondering how the Doogie Howser MD-a-like that was before me could ever develop into Biehn’s Kyle Reese.
They do deal with the appearance of the Schwarzenegger terminator quite well. It gets away with his recreated image looking a little odd, as he features as an off the production line terminator, so perhaps not quite as realistic as later on (in the earlier movies).
There are also several obligatory nods to the earlier films, but these are more likely to cause eye rolling than delight.
The film does not want for action sequences, but it does want for a reasonable way of threading them together and at least involving the viewer in what is going on. There seemed an ideal opportunity within this movie to use the “future shapes the past, shapes the future” mechanism to make the viewer question everything. Could the outcome of this movie effectively render the other movies obsolete? Those buttons were tentatively pushed, but nowhere near hard or often enough. Instead, I found myself watching the film through it’s entirety to confirm what I thought it was going to be like after the first few minutes.
Unfortunately, it confirmed that it was disappointing. McG is confirmed as the director of Terminator 5; perhaps this time it should be called Terminator: Last Chance.
My rating: 2/5