Joke all you want about Arnold Schwarzenegger being too old to still be playing The Terminator. Even at 68, he’s far and away the most interesting thing about the fifth entry, Terminator: Genisys, a confusingly-plotted behemoth full of dazzling CGI in which the Austrian giant easily outshines his much younger co-stars.
The film starts out telling a familiar story: Human Resistance fighters in 2029 led by John Connor (Jason Clarke) nearly defeat artificial intelligence Skynet, which in a desperate move sends back a terminator to kill John’s mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke), which leads to Resistance soldier—and John’s father—Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) being sent back to 1984 to protect her.
Once Reese gets there, the writers make hash of the storyline as we know it, throwing in an aged-looking Schwarzenegger terminator, a liquid-metal terminator, more time travel and an even more advanced terminator that looks like someone it shouldn’t. The characters seem to exist only to try and explain it all, which takes up every spare second in between the various fights and chases.
Despite the ridiculous plotting, the writers deserve credit for at least thinking up a Terminator-plausible way of not only keeping Schwarzenegger around, but taking his age into account. And Schwarzenegger exploits the old-age angle to nice effect, eliciting a surprising amount of sympathy for his iconic robot, in addition to making us laugh via his deadpan delivery and attempts at smiling.
His three co-leads, however, are inexplicably flat; they say their lines, hit their marks and not much else. Though Courtney’s behaved like this before in other action flicks, I largely blame the incredibly generic dialogue, which also undermines ex-Dr. Who Matt Smith as the personification of Skynet. Only J.K. Simmons manages to show some personality, though he’s wasted in his cop role.
Luckily, director Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) knows how to craft epic action sequences. He makes the terminator tussles terrifically thunderous things, arranges a rousing car chase on the Golden Gate Bridge and creates some nifty visuals with the advanced terminator. He’s no James Cameron (or even Terminator 3’s Jonathan Mostow), but he more than gets the (action) job done. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 11/10/15