Arnold aside, 'Terminator Genisys' is an unholy mess
Nine out of ten movie fans agree the Terminator is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most famous role.
Well, this is not a scientific poll, and in fact, it is not even a real one.
I just made it up, but it would be difficult to argue a more prominent character for Mr. Former Governor of California.
As a child of the 1980’s, of course, I eagerly welcome a 67-year-old Arnold donning his black leather jacket, speaking in a robotic voice and blowing up everything in his path yet again in “Terminator Genisys”, the fifth installment of the “Terminator” franchise.
As I sat in a crowded movie theatre over the course of 2 hours and 5 minutes, I certainly enjoyed watching Arnold wearing intimating garb, delivering those familiar lines - including “I’ll be back” - and blowing up the aforementioned “everything”.
Unfortunately, director Alan Taylor and writers Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier created an unholy mess of a movie.
This is a time travel story, and the film begins 2029.
John Connor (Jason Clarke), his best friend Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) and a band of rebels fight The Machines.
In fact, the movie’s opening sequences give the audience a refreshing peak of the events leading up to the machines sending the original Terminator back in time to 1984, the setting of the first film in the series, “The Terminator”.
Keeping aligned with movie history, Reese follows it back to 1984 as well.
Soon after, however, old timelines - for some reason - become warped, and Reese and Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) find themselves battling different terminators from different movie eras.
As the movie plays out, this new twist on old themes becomes tiresome, not intriguing.
As our heroes - including Arnold’s Terminator - fight to stop Skynet (the machines) from becoming self-aware, the movie volleys between recycled ideas and confusing time travel storylines.
The audience never receives a clear picture why old timelines were changed, and it forces us to simply watch action sequences we’ve seen before and conversations we didn’t ask to hear.
The script gives Courtney and Emilia Clarke get plenty of time to act out a budding relationship with Reese and Sarah, but their chemistry is as sterile as a cold and empty operating room at six in the morning.
Courtney is sorely miscast.
Taylor either did not give Courtney enough guidance or this budding action star just doesn’t have the range to carry the supposed emotional moments with his co-star.
Emilia does not fare much better, and other than resembling a young Linda Hamilton, she really offers nothing new to the story.
Sarah even says at one point, “Come with me if you want to live,” and it rings hollow.
Interestingly enough, Arnold repeats - as I mentioned earlier - many of his same terminator puns, but with the rapport of a seasoned actor.
Although we’ve seen Arnold deploy his tongue and cheek persona before - while smashing down large steel doors and crashing though concrete walls - he is figuratively winking at the camera throughout the film.
Hence, Arnold’s screentime gives the film its only signs of life.
Let’s just hope “Terminator Genisys” is not the beginning of another weary and confusing Terminator film. (1.5/4 stars)
Image credits: Paramount Pictures