Arnold Schwarzenegger and Emilia Clarke star in sci-fi/action reboot Terminator: Genisys.
“I’ll be back.” When Mr Schwarzenegger first uttered those immortal words back in 1984 he meant it literally. Walking out before crashing a truck through a building and disposing of an entire police force in search of Sarah Connor, Arnie’s Terminator was terrifying, relentless and unforgiving.
Thirty-one years and four Terminator movies later, Arnie’s back again in franchise reboot Terminator: Genisys as, wait for it – ‘Pops.’ Something, pretty much everything, is very wrong with this picture.
Genisys spits in the face of its much loved source material and completely undermines everything that was spectacularly right with the The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. It’s worse than Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, whilst somehow making the Christian Bale lead Terminator: Salvation seem ever so slightly watchable. Genisys is quite possibly the worst Terminator yet.
Things kick off in 2029 with the leader of the human resistance John Connor (played by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Jason Clarke), on the verge of defeating the machines and taking down Skynet for good. But the super-computer has a backup plan, sending the T-800 from the original film back in time to take out Connor’s nineteen-year-old mother in 1984. But we already knew that. Connor, obviously aware of Skynet’s plan, sends loyal soldier and friend Kyle Reese (this time played by A Good Day to Die Hard’s Jai Courtney), back in time as well, to protect his mother and become his dad in the past. But we already knew that as well.
(“Wassup playas!” A T-800 takes a break from murdering to pose for a headshot.)
Here’s where the wheels start to fall off – 15 minutes in. Something goes wrong just before Reese is sent back, winding up in an alternate timeline where Sarah Connor (Game of Throne’s Emilia Clarke) is already a badass with her very own cyborg named ‘Pops’ (Arnie), to protect her. A spoiler free explanation of this new, confusing timeline is hard to achieve. But since the trailer already gives away Genisys’ ‘twist’, if you can call it that, Connor, Rhys and Pops go up against the film’s main villain John Connor, who’s turned into a human-terminator hybrid by Skynet to ensure its own survival.
There’s almost nothing good about Terminator: Genisys. It’s so desperate to recreate the great things about the first two films it forgets to actually put down a meaningful mark of its own. There are plenty nods to the originals, giving fans a cheap pop, but Genisys has its’ wires crossed from the start.
At least it’s fun seeing Arnie again. However, Pops is basically a parody of Arnie’s previous cyborgs with his character coming full swing from mindless killer to huggable cyborg foster-father. He still dishes out the one-liners, though they aren’t great, and some nifty CGI work helps him kick some ass, but even Mr Terminator himself can’t save Genisys from self-termination.
(You can’t be the mother of dragons AND the mother of mankind’s saviour all at once Emilia! Got it!?)
A microwave could probably give a better performance than Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese. Nobody can top Michael Biehn’s original portrayal, but Courtney is so dull you’d think he was an actual robot. Mother of dragons Emilia Clarke does enough as Sarah Connor but she’s not entirely convincing. Jason Clarke is as equally boring as Courtney. Also, JK Simmons wins the award for ‘strangest casting of a good actor with not enough screen time in an awful film.’
The action sequences make the popcorn a bit easier to swallow. Arnie vs Arnie is fun while it lasts near the beginning, but the rest is nothing new and instantly forgettable. Thor: The Dark World director Alan Taylor and screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier have created a muddled mess that gets caught up in its own poorly written dialogue and mediocre action, with some cyborgs chucked in for a laugh.
Before the credits roll, microwave, I mean Jai Courtney’s Reese, mutters that “the future isn’t set.” With Terminator: Genisys the first in a planned trilogy of Terminator films, let’s hope the microwave is right.