When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance against Skynet, sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), from a Terminator assassin, an unexpected turn of events creates an altered timeline. Instead of a scared waitress, Sarah is a skilled fighter and has a Terminator guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger) by her side. Faced with unlikely allies and dangerous new enemies, Reese sets out on an unexpected new mission: reset the future.
Review (warning spoilers)
The first Terminator film was released in 1984 when I was 10 years old and I didn’t get to see it until years later at home. However Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released in 1991 when I was 17 and was a massive hit in Australia and was the peak of the franchise with a great story, awesome music and great efforts. Plus Arnie was at the peak of his career. I’ve seen all the other movies and the TV series (which I thought was above average) but I was hoping they would get back some of the magic.
In Terminator Genisys the franchise is definitely on the right track even if not yet at destination greatness. Given this is a time travel story it was always easy to hit the reset button, or redirection button like the Back to The Future series. The first 10 minutes starts in the future explaining the war with the machines and showing us events that would have happened before the events in the first movie. The story is then flipped on its head once we go to 1984, Sarah Connor is the one with all the knowledge and fighting skills back when she first meets Kylie Reese back in 1984. The original / bad T-800 (Arnie) gets taken out not long after arriving in 1984 by an older version of himself. The movie gives a good enough explanation for why the good T-800 is now older (he traveled back to the 1970s to save Sarah and the outside skin grows naturally old).
The movie is obviously setting up future installments, clearing the decks of previous history that locks stories and creating a new set of questions. There is a post movie credits scene that gives a strong hint there is more to come, but the majority of cinema goers had left, obviously not fans of Marvel Films that do this all the time!
The Terminator franchise has always asked questions about destiny and free choice, about our nature to attack (in this movie humans, not Skynet does the pre-emptive attack) and how much we rely on technology which is only becoming greater as time goes on. Also ultimately can a computer have a soul, go beyond it’s programming. In real life if that occurs most great thinkers like Stephen Hawking between that will be the end of the human race.
There are still some great jokes in the movie. No nudity (come on Emilia Clarke!) and surprisingly little blood for the number of people killed. The only mistake I feel the movie made is not keeping most of the focus on Sarah Connor, her character starts so strong but isn’t as key in the final confrontation that you would feel she would be.
Overall I’d recommend this movie to any fan of Terminator movies, or a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his best movie outing since probably mid-1990s. Also make sure you watch at least the first Terminator movie again before watching to see the same scenes play out differently.
An enjoyable night.