Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clark, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons
Director: Alan Taylor
Screenwriters: Patrick Lussier and Laeta Kalogridis
Runtime: 126 Minutes
Terminator Genisys is something of a pleasant surprise. Twelve years after the franchise was relaunched with the abysmal Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (and with Arnold out of office and making fun action pictures again,) producers David Ellison and Dana Goldberg boot up the dormant killing machine.
And oddly enough, it works.
For the first time since Terminator 2: Judgement Day, this franchise seems to actually give itself respect. Instead of being yet another vehicle for The Governator to spout one liners and blow away bad guys, Genisys is trying to tell a story. There’s a ton of interesting ideas at play, including watching Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) be the outsider looking in instead of Sarah. The much maligned “John Connor as a Terminator” plot line, while admittingly a little clunky, gives a welcome change to John’s mission when he’s sent back, rather than be fodder for our heroes.
Arnold Schwarzenegger brings a ton of charm to his T-800, and really carries the movie. Not that the other performers are bad, but this is Arnold’s playground, and as we saw with Terminator Salvation, you really can’t do these movies without him. Emilia Clarke is admirable as Sarah Connor, breathing some fresh life into her when she needs to, but also channeling her inner Linda Hamilton. Jai Courtney is serviceable as Kyle Reese, but to be fair, filling the shoes of Michael Biehn was going to be tough for anyone. Jason Clarke is fares well as John Connor, and J.K. Simmons steals every scene he’s in as Detective O’Brien, a cop who runs into Reese in this timeline in 1984, only to cross paths with him in 2017.
Director Alan Taylor does a great job with the action, and wisely apes the pacing of the first two films in the franchise. Taylor also allows the right amount of beats in between the set pieces to give our characters some solid breathing room. He also creates some really fun sequences that did elicit a cheer or two from this critic. Also worthy of praise are the visual effects, which never look phony, including young Arnold’s CGI face.
Terminator Genisys isn’t perfect, but it’s not a vaporization of the franchise. In fact, this felt more along the lines of the James Cameron Terminator films than either of the last two outings. This is the Terminator sequel we’ve been waiting for since T2 came to a close, and for the first time since 1991, this franchise is exciting. Simply put, if the first two films live in an exclusive mansion, Genisys can come over and stay in the guest house, occasionally.
Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – B
Overall – B