So. Here we are again with the fifth Terminator film – and that’s not including the television series “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” Arnie is back from his sojourn in California politics, and the lead is the waifish Daenerys from “Game of Thrones,” (with dark hair) but what on earth can they do to reboot/remake this story so that it’s different from what’s gone before?
Quite a lot, as it turns out – though it’s damned confusing.
We start in the future, where soldier Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is the right hand man of John Connor (Jason Clarke). Reese is the erstwhile hero of the tale; after going back in time from 2029 and battling the original Terminator, he saved Sarah so that she could later give birth to John, the man who would lead the humans against the killing machines of Skynet, a computer entity that became part of our everyday lives – and then took over.
That takeover theme is continued here – SPOILER ALERT – through an all-pervasive phone/tablet computer system everyone runs their lives off. The latest super version, Genisys, is about to be launched and make our entire lives connected in every possible way. Sounds somewhat fruit-related, right?
It’s one of several sharp moments in this film – there are homages and lines that pay tribute to what’s gone before of course – but I’ll keep the JK Simmons twist to myself; it’s a bit of a cracker.
Back to this film though, where initially we see all as it should be: kind of. Moments before Reese is sent back in time to protect Sarah, he sees John being grabbed by someone with bad intentions – but who and what? Arriving back in 1984, Reese is soon being chased by the silver mercury-style shape shifting cop T-1000 (Byung Hun-Lee) – only now it’s Sarah (Emilia Clarke) telling him “come with me if you want to live.”
She doesn’t need protection anymore; the original (naked) Terminator who just arrived was killed by Guardian (Schwarzenegger), who came back in time even before 1984, and has become Sarah’s surrogate father (she rather awkwardly calls him “pops”).
Nothing is what it seems now, and soon Reese and Sarah are flying back to future San Francisco to try and stop the whole Skynet horror happening at all; they’ll meet Guardian there in a few decades. He’s delayed by traffic though and they’re arrested, but then, miraculously, Connor appears – he’s made it through time too…. or has he?
You really need a pen and paper to keep up with the convoluted twists and turns of what’s happened in the past, present and future here: all you need to know is that Reese and Sarah are the parents of Connor, the man who is set to save the world – expect that now he’s about to destroy it.
Forget all that though; you’re here for action, and there’s plenty of it. Arnie – as usual with few lines and the only laughs – get battered all over the place, there’s a good scene on the Golden Gate Bridge, and the metal Connor is a great twist on the evolved machines.
The liquid T-1000 is great too, and though Clarke herself is such a tiny waif that she seems more like a young teen than a hardcore battler – and the forced “family” humour moments seem exactly that – while it’s a touch on the long side, there’s enough entertainment here for a Terminator fan to be happy with before the inevitable next installment.
Review by JAMES BARTLETT
Dir. Alan Taylor
Dur. 125 mins
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke
Release Date: July 2
Now showing at Odyssey Cinemas. Buy your tickets online here.