First, I’d like to say that I’m a Terminator fan. I’ve seen all the films and I’ve read all the comics and I know what could be a great Terminator film if someone (the Studio) was brave enough to take real chances and utilize some of the story elements from the various Terminator comics. Unfortunately, Terminator: Genysis (2015) just isn’t it. In an age when Studios pander to what they think will make a profitable film rather than what will actually be something new and exciting for audiences we get this new rebooted film that first wants to erase and rewrite everything that came before in the previous four films while still trying to appeal to the same audience that enjoyed those earlier films.
The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as another T-800 Terminator sent back to protect Sarah Connors (Emilia Clarke) when she was a child. We don’t know who sent him back but this new Terminator nicknamed “Pops” by Sarah has been training and protecting Sarah as she grows until the day in 1984 when Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is originally sent back to protect an innocent (and older) Sarah (from the original first film) from the Terminator. Unfortunately, Kyle is a little late as it is she who has to save him. Then they discover that the timeline has changed (again) and that they are on a new mission to finally stop Skynet from coming into existence in the future through a new technological advancement that will link technology all over the world (in a more advanced version of the Internet) called Genysis.
The concept of the film isn’t that bad considering the many unanswered questions in the film (presumably for the future installments of this new proposed trilogy) but what really hampers the film is the fact that the love story between Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese never comes off as genuine probably because Clarke and Courtney have very little onscreen chemistry and all their interactions seem forced. Another thing is that Pops is made the comic relief in the film (probably to appeal to a younger audience) and none of this fits into the film despite Schwarzenegger doing the best he can with the role.
The film is written by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier and directed by Alan Taylor. Taylor does a serviceable job with the material but all of the action sequences lack the style of James Cameron’s original two films or even McG’s Salvation (2009) and Jonathan Mostow’s Rise of the Machines (2003). The final result is a “paint-by-numbers” action film that relies on too many of the previous films’ story elements while also trying to abandon some.
What needed to happen is a film that didn’t feel the need to tell a story with Sarah or John Connor or the need to change history. What audiences need is a new story with new characters to follow and not the tired “old guard”. I have very little optimism for any future entries in this new proposed trilogy because if they don’t make some real changes they will be just as uninteresting and flaccid as this one was.