The Terminator: Genisys – Film Review

Post-apocalyptic wasteland setting – check. Nostalgic sentiments, and a not-so-underground force aiming to overthrow an oppressive system – check. Weird plot twists that aim to take the focus away from the fact that not much else about the science fiction film points to its novelty – check, and check!

The setting is years after Judgement Day, an event imposed upon humanity by Skynet. This event was one aimed at wiping out all mankind from the face of Earth, and only a few people have managed to survive. These people are constantly at war with Skynet’s man-killing machines. Disguised as humans, they are called terminators. John Connor (Jason Clarke) is the leader of the opposition against the oppressive Skynet and a pivotal character in the fight against the war on humanity. Therefore, the fate of the few remaining humans rests on Connor with the help of a fellow brave warrior from the surviving generation.
Or does it? I swear, I missed much of the dialogue trying to wrap my mind around the possibility of travelling back in time only to travel ‘back’ to the future to change the course of time in the past… as well as the future. I presume you might be as lost as I was, so let me attempt to explain.
John Connor’s life is threatened because a terminator has been sent back in time to kill his mother, therefore potentially erasing Connor’s very existence. He sends Lieutenant Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to save his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), an unsuspecting waitress who knows nothing about the dangers she is up against. However, it turns out that she is years ahead of Lieutenant Reese, and since the age of 9, Sarah has been brought up by a terminator model (Arnold Schwarzenegger) that has been programmed to prepare her for combat and protect her at all costs.
Sarah Connor, Reese and the Terminator must now travel through time on two missions to reverse time and stop Judgement Day from ever happening and to prevent the artificial intelligence programme, Genisys, from going online in 2017.
Yes, it is possible that I may have not read enough science fiction to know how all this can work, so I gave up and focused on trying to absorb what I did understand. The problem is, much like that game children play when they tap you on the left shoulder only to surprise you from your right side; if you know how the game is played, you see it coming.
In other words, all those twists in the plot seemed like a mere smoke-and-mirrors act to distract viewers from the fact that the important events in this film are actually foreseeable. And, of course, you can expect a couple of old references overtly thrown in, including the famous “I’ll be back” line.
This is always my concern with movies that are rewritten and repackaged for a younger generation. It is almost as if they expect this one line and all its chewed-up sentiments to carry the entire movie. But I think that we are so familiar with it, a mere suggestion to the sentiment would have been enough. Yes, we understand that the prequel was epic, but please, let us move on.
Let me not steal too much thunder from the movie, though; I will give credit where it is due. Although anyone can wish for a movie sequel to be extraordinarily crafted, I understand that we should all know better than to expect that any more. With that considered, the film does have its enjoyable components.
However tiring their characters may be individually, Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney definitely display some strong chemistry on screen. Thankfully, the chemistry in their dialogue is not overplayed, so it does not become exhausting. I am also quite pleased to see that their characters do not have to resort to frustrating “goodbye” kisses in the middle of crucial life-or-death scenes.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performance is as capturing as you can expect. He is able to see the movie through with his mechanised grin and use of common idioms. He is able to play his stoic-yet-lovable, stilted character so naturally that a terminator-type model in this real world does not seem too farfetched (but God forbid!). Our beloved Arnie proves that he may be “old, but not obsolete”.
In essence, Terminator: Genisys is nothing short of decent. I found it mildly satisfying, no doubt. And I do not know about you, but for the average movie that it is (and considering it was not my money that was spent on the US$155 million budget), well, two hours of mild amusement is definitely not the end of the world.