“Come with me if you want to live.”
After four Terminator films it was about time someone actually hit the reset button for this fifth installment of the franchise directed by Alan Taylor. Now that the series has been refreshed we will be expecting at least two more sequels, but fortunately James Cameron will be back to direct them because these films haven’t come close to the high standards set by the first two. Terminator Genisys opens with a lot of promise as it begins as sort of a prequel where John Connor and Kyle Reese are fighting as part of the Resistance against the machines. As they are about to destroy Skynet, the machines send back a T-800 to kill Sarah Connor, and in order to protect her Kyle volunteers to go back (which explains the events that took place in the original Terminator), but a series of unexpected events take place and the original timeline is altered so everything has been reset. Screenwriters, Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier, came up with an interesting premise for this sequel which takes into consideration much of the Terminator mythology. It does however take a huge risk considering it basically erases the canon set by the first two Terminator films. Unfortunately what began with promise started to lose its appeal near the end as the action and the pacing began to drag while the twists kept on piling on each other. This sequel will satisfy those audience members who are simply looking to have a good time and marvel at the special effects, but those who are hoping it to match the quality of the original two films will be left very disappointed. I’d argue that this film doesn’t even want to compete with them, but rather simply stand out as a forgettable fun blockbuster sequel, and it does.
Emilia Clarke takes over Hamilton’s role playing the iconic Sarah Connor, while its Jason Clarke’s turn to be John Connor (the fourth different actor to do so in the same number of films). Jai Courtney gets to take on the role of Kyle Reese, who also happens to be the narrator of the film. Arnold Schwarzenegger is also back as the young T-800 who is sent back in time to kill Sarah and as a Guardian who is sent to protect her when she was a child in the alternating timeline. The film begins in 2029 as the Resistance is facing off Skynet and then it jumps back to 1984 when Terminator and Reese are sent to the past, but once the timeline has been altered they travel to 2017 where most of the film takes place. The plot may be a bit confusing for some since there are many twists and eventually it hurts the film. The third act involving a bus in the Golden Gate Bridge followed by a helicopter chase does get a bit ridiculous, but I guess those are the scenes many people pay money to go see.
There is something about the premise in all these sequels where there are so many alternating timelines developing that it eventually hurts the franchise because you come to expect that no matter what the heroes do to prevent Judgement Day there will always be some alternative for it to resurface again, and the same could be said about saving Sarah Connor. After a while you’re simply watching these action scenes and thinking to yourself what’s the point because even if they succeed there will be something else they will have to do in the next movie to prevent Judgement Day from happening all over again. So most of the emotional thrills from the original films gets lost here because there isn’t much more at stake. What this film does succeed at is in its inclusion of some humor revolving around Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character and J.K. Simmons. Each time the action sequences or the drama began to drag the film down, the light touches of humor made it more bearable. I was really looking forward to what Emilia Clarke could add to the character of Sarah Connor considering I love her performance in Game of Thrones, but surprisingly it was Jai Courtney who got most of my sympathy. It might not be fair to blame Clarke considering Sarah Connor is such an iconic character, but Clarke never manages to reach the same level Linda Hamilton did. Having said that however I still did like her in this film, but she never steals the show. Courtney on the other hand is an actor I’ve never really liked, but in this film he shows some potential and carries each action scene he’s in. Schwarzenegger is the best thing about Genisys and it was great to see him having fun playing the character that turned him into a star. He delivers each one-liner better than any machine could ever do. He makes the film worth it.