Oh time travel, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of you. Being set around the idea of time travel allows Terminator to do all manner of interesting things as it tries to breathe new life into this aging action franchise. The return of Arnold Schwarzenegger to the series helps things as well, making this feel more like the first two Terminator films and less like parts three and four. However, while the filmmakers pull off some fun and inventive tricks, this is ultimately a pretty forgettable summer blockbuster.
The film starts out all too familiarly, as John Connor leads humans in a fight against the evil robotic Skynet in the future. When Skynet sends a terminator back in time to kill John’s mother, he sends trusted soldier Kyle Reese to protect her. This is where the movie really starts to have fun with the premise.
As Reese shows up in 1984, seemingly following the plot of the original Terminator film, he finds things completely out of whack. Not only is he up against a super advanced T1000 terminator (just like in Terminator 2), but Sarah Connor is already a hardened terminator killer who is there waiting for him. Oh, and Schwarzenegger is there too, a good guy terminator who only cares about protecting Sarah.
Taking a familiar story and mixing it up works really well for the Terminator franchise. They get to tease and play with things that worked well in previous films while also serving up several great swerves to the well known continuity. Unfortunately, all these wacky time travel mix up plots get a bit jumbled and the movie has several major holes. There are also a few too many developments that come out of nowhere just in time to save the heroes, which gets old.
One thing I loved about this movie is how it was paced. There aren’t many slow moments in Terminator: Genisys. This is an action movie through and through, jumping from one exciting sequence to the next. Getting to see the heroes go up against both new and old threats is a lot of fun, and the movie does a good job of delivering a great new villain in the second half of the story. If you’re looking for some great robot on robot combat, a lot of guns, chases, and explosions, this is a movie for you.
I will say that as well done and as much fun as these action sequences all are, they also feel pretty forgettable. There’s nothing about this movie that will really stick in your mind and very little reason you’d ever want to watch it again. That’s not the biggest complaint ever, but it says something that the movie had little or no connection to the audience.
Lead actors Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney don’t help matters. Both are perfectly passable, but neither really seizes the film and makes it their own. The chemistry between them feels really forced, making their interactions awkward throughout the film. Schwarzenegger is a bright spot, delivering a lovable terminator that you really care about. The movie likely would’ve been better had it spent more time developing him and explaining exactly how he came about to be Sarah Connor’s protector. J.K. Simmons also gets criminally underused in the film. His barely there character is maybe the most interesting part of the whole film, yet it gets quickly swept aside and forgotten.
If you want an action packed summer blockbuster, then go see this movie. It delivers on the promise of the trailer, giving you a mixed up, time hopping romp with plenty of action sequences. It’s not something you’ll remember a week later, but it’s at least a lot of fun while you’re watching it.
THREE OUT OF FIVE STARS
This movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and gunplay throughout, partial nudity and brief strong language