Terminator Genisys sounded like a bad idea the moment I saw the behind-the-scenes footage almost a year ago, first teaser, then the first trailer, then the ‘living one-sheet poster‘ then… and so on. Perhaps if they’d concentrated on a plot that made sense, it would’ve had a reason to exist.
This film is, basically, as much a disappointment as online dating.
We start in 2029 where the resistance against the machines, led by a suitably scarfaced John Connor (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes‘ Jason Clarke) tracks down the baddies to a big time machine thingy which they plan to take down tonight and destory. Except they won’t, because one of them has to go back to 1984 and chase after the Terminator which we know went back in the first film. And that the man to go back is Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney).
But just at the moment of going back to the once-present, while he’s tossing and turning inside the time machine as it lifts him up and twists him around, he spots something bad happening. Alas, at that point it’s like seeing someone being mugged on a train station platform just as your train is leaving – you can’t do a thing about it, and especially if you’re going back in time you can’t report it on arrival as it won’t have happened. Confused? You won’t be until after this episode of Soap! …or something.
What follows for the next 30-40 minutes is basically a mash-up of the first two films, or how they might appear if redone by a five-year-old after an imbibing of Sunny Delight, an afternoon of Minecraft and some Class A drugs. Some of this might’ve worked if they’d found actors to look somewhat like the originals. Courtney is nothing like Biehn, and sadly gets more work these days, while Byung-hun Lee plays the T-1000. Since when was the T-1000 Korean? I know this is an alternate past, but since the future didn’t know about the alternate past before sending any machines or humans back, how have they changed the T-1000? I’m probably thinking about this a lot more than the scriptwriters did. However, even the then-futuristic machine’s SFX don’t seem as good as when they were first used in 1991. In fact, despite the first teaser for this coming out a year before the movie’s release, the whole shebang still feels like a rush job.
From then on, the film jumps about in time like a dont-know-what, and seems to be making it up as it goes along.
Since Terminator 2, we’ve had Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, which was very poor indeed, and Terminator Salvation which was completely forgettable. In fact, the only thing I can remember about the latter was Christian Bale kicking off on-set, and BBC Breakfast accidentally reporting it…
At times when all the CRASH!BANG!WALLOP! was going on, it felt like I was going through a bad halluciogenic nightmare… as if you can have a good one(!)
While watching this, it made the RoboCop reboot and Stallone’s fourth Rambo films feel like masterpieces, and all the endless smashing up of stuff was reminiscent of the most tedious parts of Man of Steel. In fact, this is so bad that even Taken 3 is better than Terminator Genisys!
Elsewhere, we have too many self-referential moments, just one being Arnie crawling along the floor a la the first Terminator movie, and there’s a big plot change about halfway through, but… if you’ve seen the trailer then you already know what it is, so I’ll put it in a spoiler tag below if you want to know in advance. I do know that director Alan Taylor put this in especially as a big twist during the film, only to be discovered when you see it, but the studio thought they knew best and put it in the trailer!
Here’s also a spoiler tag around where ‘Genisys‘ comes from. It’s not a spoiler, really, since it’s just a plot device, but if you want to know where the title comes from, again without seeing the film first…
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the film.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.