Terminated: “Terminator: Genisys” Review
Despite its reputation as a landmark franchise in both the action and sci-fi genres, the “Terminator” franchise has never really managed to fill the enormous shoes of the first two films. “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” (2003) and “Terminator: Salvation” (2009) both proved unsuccessful with fans, and put the franchise on ice until now.
“Terminator: Genisys” tries to learn from the triumph of “X-Men: Days of Future Past” by applying time travel to reboot a tired franchise, with very little success. The problem here is that “Terminator: Genysis” completely ignores the lesser entries of the series anyway, rendering the reboot ultimately useless. All this film does is wipe the beloved “Terminator” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” away from continuity altogether.
The newly released film shows an altered timeline where Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) goes back in time to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). Things start off familiar enough, but soon Kyle finds a liquid metal T-1000 waiting for him. Additionally, Sarah has become battle hardened thanks to years of nurturing at the hands of an older T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger).
The film also successfully generates nostalgia as director Alan Taylor recreated several set pieces from the original film. However, once the film goes off into new, unexplored territory, things begin to fall apart. The film attempts to broach some profound issues about human connection to technology, but it all ultimately comes off as heavy-handed and shallow.
The film’s pacing is also a complete mess. The earlier “Terminator” movies adopted a slow, horror-esque approach with the titular cyborgs would stalk and get close to the characters before striking. Here, the action comes fast, loud, and ultimately at the cost of tension. We seldom get the respite necessary to make a real emotional connection with the heroes. These pacing issues also highlight tonal problems with the film: it can never decide if it wants to veer towards the apocalyptic doom for the first two, or the comedic lightness of the third.
The cast holds their own, but don’t get much to work with when it comes to their characters. Having Schwarzenegger back in the franchise feels welcome, but his character isn’t taken in any new directions. The Terminator is designed to learn from humans; they could have shown the emotional growth experienced by his “T2” model, but stretched out over decades. Emilia Clarke does an equally serviceable job as Sarah Connor, creating something different — yet equally compelling — from Linda Hamilton’s iconic version of the character.
Sadly, Jai Courtney does a far less impressive job with the character of Kyle Reese. Michael Biehn — and even Anton Yelchin in “Terminator: Salvation” — portrayed Reese well, as a scrappy, damaged survivor. Courtney essentially guts the character of all compelling traits, framing Reese as just another wisecracking, musclebound soldier. Reese should serve as a juxtaposition to the robotic killing machines, but instead fights to fill the same role. Equally disappointing is J.K Simmons’ role as O’Brian, a part that no doubt had more substance and purpose, but all of his good scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.
Ultimately, “Terminator: Genysis” is a completely overblown with CGI and has very little heart or meaning. Despite some nostalgic elements, it serves as proof that not every classic franchise from the 1980s requires resurrection for modern audiences.
What did you think of “Terminator: Genisys?” Did you like it or dislike it? Comment below or tweet @connerws to tell us why!