I thought a new Terminator film couldn’t possibly be as bad as 2009’s miserable Salvation.
How wrong I was.
Terminator Genisys is a pathetic, incomprehensible and lazy sequel that regurgitates elements from the previous films without a shred of
originality or inspiration.
The film will irk fans of the series from the very introduction, as it haphazardly disavows everything that has come before (and after) it.
While every previous film in the series has attempted to move the mythology forward, Genisys bogs itself down in the past, creating a
completely unnecessary alternate timeline instead of progressing the existing story in any way.
It’s hard to watch any film in the series and not ask oneself how any of it makes any difference considering the endless possibilities of time
travel, and Genisys’ insipid story has the gall to send us back to 1984 (The year of James Cameron’s original) to needlessly recreate
sequences we’ve already seen in a sad attempt at fan service.
Genisys opens with yet another post-apocalyptic action sequence, as if this hasn’t been done to death already.
Humanity’s savior, John Connor, sends resistance soldier Kyle Reese back to the past to protect his mother, Sarah from time-travelling
robotic assassins called terminators.
Kind of like the original film, you might say? Kind of exactly like it.
The twist comes when John Connor is attacked by a terminator while Reese is mid time jump. Reese ends up being sent back to an
alternate 1984, in which Sarah Connor is already well aware of the future and already has a terminator protector, none other than Arnold
They spend just enough time in 1984 to lamely reenact moments from The Terminator, before jumping to 2017 (I think).
Genisys becomes a total mess of timelines, and fans of the franchise will constantly find themselves asking why this film even exists. It
adds nothing to the Terminator canon, and feels more like a series of unused or alternate sequences from the earlier movies.
Terminator Salvation at least attempted to finally portray the long awaited battle between Skynet and the human resistance. I feel dirty
saying it, but at least that abysmal film tried to move the series along.
Genisys doesn’t even bother.
Remember when Terminator 3 was maligned because it couldn’t match Cameron’s original classics? Well, it’s a masterpiece compared to
the two abominations we’ve had to endure in its wake.
But even if its plot is misguided, at least Genisys could have been an entertaining sci-fi action spectacle. Even here it fails.
Action sequences are plenty, but none leave any impression. Director Alan Taylor seems content with simply rehashing elements from the
previous films without an ounce of energy or excitement.
The film lumbers along and we are forced to endure directionless action, nonsensical alternate reality jargon and some truly atrocious
The screenwriters reuse the same recurring jokes ad nauseam. How many times must the Terminator be referred to as old, but not
obsolete? And the Terminator goofily attempting to smile was funny once, but the other five times, not so much.
Then there’s the horrible banter between Sarah and Kyle. It’s that awful Hollywood cliché of the man and woman who can’t stand each
other, but then suddenly fall in love for no reason other than plot convenience.
Emilia Clarke tries her best as Sarah, but can’t overcome the film’s all-encompassing mediocracy, while Jai Courtney is a poor substitute for
Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese.
J.K. Simmons manages to coax a few laughs as a wacky detective who completely buys into the idea of time-travelling robots, but he has
nowhere near a large enough part to really elevate the film.
Even Schwarzenegger, in his career-defining role, is completely wasted. I used to think his deadpan delivery could make any line funny.
Genisys’ script is proof that isn’t true.
This is a truly miserable film that fails to live up to the Terminator name, and provides none of the kinetic thrills and visual ingenuity that
fueled the first three entries.
The characters and story are so robotically conceived and executed that one could be excused for wondering if Terminator Genisys wasn’t
conceived by Skynet itself.
At least that would explain a few things in this baffling mess of a film.
(out of four)
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Written by: Laeta Kalogridis & Patrick Lussier
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia
Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyi
Music by: Lorne Balfe
Cinematography by: Kramer Morgenthau
Released: July 1, 2015; 126 Minutes