What was once a powerful, groundbreaking cinema franchise has now been reset, reshaped and rehashed again and again into just another computer crafted cash cow that’s coasting on the fumes of its previous entries. “Terminator Genisys” is the 5th entry in the franchise built by James Cameron and thanks to “X-men: Days of Future Past” genius use of rebooting the series via time travelling,” the Terminator is back and new and improved…sort of…maybe…we’ll see. The story goes (as most know it by now) John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to prevent Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) from being killed by the Terminator so John can be born and lead the resistance to victory against Skynet and the machines.
However, Kyle arrives to see Sarah already armed and prepared for the Terminator’s arrival; thanks to the protection and assistance from her guardian: The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger). The timeline has been altered and now Terminators (both new and old) are gunning for Kyle, Sarah and her guardian Terminator as they try to prevent Skynet from ever existing and cancelling Judgment day. It’s amazing how a franchise that’s all about time travel can use it to “reboot” the series and it STILL comes off as desperate. “Genisys” plays out exactly how everyone has been saying it would: turning back the clock to breathe new life into a franchise that should have rusted in peace after “T3: Rise of the Machines.” Everything changes and the story and characters are given a “do-over” with new faces and twists on the same story.
While Schwarzenegger proves he’s the only one capable of being the one true Terminator, the rest of the cast feel like secondhand stereotypes of the roles made famous by Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn. Emilia Clarke acts more like the tough girl on campus than the hardcore warrior Hamilton portrayed, she’s got lots of sass and stern glares but no guts or muscle underneath. Jai Courtney actually delivers a decent performance; far better than I’ve seen him do in past films…but like the rest of the cast, the anemic script waters everyone down into shallow shells that fail to inspire any attachment or admiration.
However, cash cow or not; it’s clear every other area of the film had been given lots of thought and planning. The use of time travel is fairly complicated and far more elaborate than I had expected; the story always tried to make sense of timelines and alternate realities; even if the audience didn’t get everything. The “use” of John Connor was also very interesting, this is a unique take on the character that none of the other “Terminator” films had explored and it offered a variety of new intense action sequences. The action also plays out perfectly with the movie’s pacing; it’s tight and fast paced but not TOO fast. “Genisys” gives you plenty of action but also plenty of time to absorb everything and prevent the film from feeling too rushed or too slow. Schwarzenegger’s interaction with Clarke and Courtney was another fun addition that used the characters in ways we had never seen before.
The thing is “Genisys” is not a bad “Terminator” movie; it’s not even a bad movie…it’s just not a great film on either side. Nothing about the story or cast makes you feel like you have to see more adventures following this new cast and timeline take, neither does this serve as a final send off for the “Terminator” series. This is not an epic chapter in the humans vs. machines saga and while it’s a damn good time to sit and enjoy for 2 hours; it fails to provide the very thing it was created for: bring back the franchise for future sequels. “Terminator Genisys” doesn’t break any new ground; it’s not so bad you’ll want it wiped from your mind but neither does it do anything that makes you want to buy it and see again and again.