Main cast: Christian Bale (John Connor), Sam Worthington (Marcus Wright), Moon Bloodgood (Blair Williams), Anton Yelchin (Kyle Reese), Jadagrace Berry (Star), Bryce Dallas Howard (Kate Connor), Common (Barnes), Jane Alexander (Virginia), Michael Ironside (General Ashdown), and Helena Bonham Carter (Dr Serena Kogan)
Terminator Salvation is an unintentionally hilarious movie. It has its moments, but by the time the closing credits roll, I feel as if I’ve been hit in the face in some sneak attack and I’m still somewhat dazed by that hit.
By the way, I’m assuming in this review that you are already familiar with the canon of the movies in the Terminator franchise. If you aren’t, I apologize but I can only suggest that you look up Wikipedia or something for the back story as it has been changed and retconned so often that I am not sure what the actual canon is anymore.
In this latest entry, we go to 2018, when John Connor is part of the Resistance movement along with his wife Kate. He answers to his bosses, which include General Ashdown in his submarine which I believe is called HSS Utter Uselessness, but John is pretty much the leader to many cells all over the place as his voice is the one they hear over their radio. In this movie, the Resistance has learned of a possible radio frequency that can shut down Skynet.
Into this picture is a man from the present day, Marcus Wright, a man who donated his body to science after his death sentence, only to wake up in a strange new world ruled by machines after he had been given the lethal injection treatment. He meets Kyle Reese purely by chance, and when Reese is captured by Skynet, Marcus ends up meeting John Connor and his Resistance cell team. For reasons I will let you discover on your own when you watch this movie, John and his gang do not trust Marcus, but John also realizes that if Marcus is right and Kyle is held by Skynet in the base where the Resistance will be attacking and nuking very shortly, then Kyle will die, John will not be conceived, and who knows what will happen next. What will John do now?
What I like about this movie is how it attempts to address the issue of what constitutes humanity, although eventually it dumbs the whole concept down to pure visceral mumbo-jumbo about faith that has me rolling up my eyes. Marcus steals the show as a sympathetic fellow who belongs to neither faction in this movie, and I have to admit that Sam Worthington is very easy on the eyes. The special effects are used to produce some great visual results. There are exciting chases and explosions, so really, this is a typical enjoyable summer blockbuster type of movie that goes down well with popcorns and low expectations.
Unfortunately, the movie suffers from an overblown but very stupid script involving a plot by Skynet that is so dependent on chances that I have a hard time imagining that a precise computer program will come up with such a plan. Also, isn’t it unbelievably stupid that Skynet chooses to imprison Kyle just to lure John into a trap when one could easily kill Kyle to get rid of both John and Kyle? It’s not as if Skynet doesn’t know whom Kyle is so seriously, I can only imagine that the scriptwriters John D Brancato and Michael Ferris were smoking something they shouldn’t when they came up with that plot. Then we have Christian Bale acting in an overwrought manner that clashes terribly with the superficial way John Connor is presented in the movie. I also wish that the movie has kept the supposed original ending that was changed eventually when the ending was leaked into the Web: the ending to this movie is unbelievably corny.
Plenty of lapses of logic are present in many scenes. Here are some examples. Open heart surgery performed in a camp that doesn’t have sophisticated equipment! A helicopter flying close to a huge explosion without being affected by it! A huge machine, stomping on the ground with all the finesse and sneakiness of an elephant stampede, that manages to sneak up to a bunch of people without them noticing it! I can only laugh at how stupid this movie is. Mr Bale’s misplaced gravity arising from his belief that he is acting in the role of the century only adds to the unintentional hilarity of the movie.
For a big dumb movie, Terminator Salvation is fine as an entertaining way to pass the time. There are plenty of explosions and chases to give some bang for the bucks spent on movie tickets. Just don’t think too hard about the story, because this movie won’t work if you start questioning what you see on the screen.