In 2018, after Skynet has nearly destroyed humanity, John Connor (Christian Bale) must lead what is left of a human resistance to stop the machines before they terminate all of man kind.
Anton Yelchin is pulling double duty after staring in both STAR TREK and TERMINATOR SALVATION, which opened within weeks of each other this past summer. He does an okay job as a young Kyle Reese and in case you didn’t know, he becomes the stud that Michael Biehn creates of him in the original. However, the real stand out is Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright, who is a man who discovers himself in this time period with his last memory being in a jail cell on death row. He is a dynamic actor who held a commanding presence on the big screen and that’s no small feat when stacked against Christian Bale. Wright is just a more interesting character than Connor is in this film. Don’t get me wrong, Bale does a fine job as Connor especially in the opening scene, but without the other films his presence seems far less relevant. Bryce Dallas Howard as Kate Connor is absolutely wasted here. I honestly didn’t understand why she was in the film and I have to believe most of her material ended up on the cutting room floor. I think she is a fantastic actress and was totally underutilized. That goes for Common as well, who played Barnes, Connor’s number one soldier. I didn’t even notice he was in the film until after I saw his name on the credits.
I’m not sure if this was the filmmakers’ intention, but the previews give away a key element that might have been a nice surprise for a character arc. However, the way the previews are set and the way the story is told it is quite obvious. I have a major problem with a specific character’s action in the film. It didn’t seem plausible in any sort of way. A character is saved by a machine that seems human, she then risks her life and everyone and the human race to rescue it. I’m fully aware that people do stupid things but that did not make sense at all. The friends and people that have kept her alive through this end time crisis are suddenly not near as important as this new half man, half machine that she has known for 24 hours.
The implausibility continues when T4 takes a very Bond-like turn and we see the evil villain divulge the evil plan before he finishes off the “good guy”. This got old in the Bond films, but here it’s a little ridiculous because the evil villain is an emotionless machine. The Bond villains did it out of pride and ego, but machines lack those human traits. A machine would choose the most logical path and this proved to be another misstep in a movie filled with them.
Where the film lacked in emotion, dialogue and story it strengthened in its action and visuals. The story wasn’t horrible because it already had blueprints made from the originals. The action was the true star of the film and that is where director McG excelled. The sound and visuals were extremely gripping. Sadly, those come in the opening scene and then again about half way through, and then are never matched again. These scenes are what made me enjoy TERMINATOR SALVATION. There is one shot at the beginning where Connor jumps into a helicopter that flies away, spins around and wrecks in what seems to be one continuous shot. It looks absolutely amazing! I actually wanted more and at that half way point I thought to myself; this movie is really working. Unfortunately, that momentum did not continue into the second half. I think the movie works on a sci-fi channel level. Maybe it should have its own series (ala Sarah Connor Chronicles) about the post apocalyptic time period, but I really hope the next big budget feature of this series gets terminated.