Running time: 126 minutes
Director: Alan Taylor
Terminator: Genisys was supposed to be the first film in a new trilogy of the Terminator franchise before the rights went back to James Cameron but the fifth installment in the saga has been such a disaster at the box office, unable to beat Jurassic World and Inside Out (both of which have already been playing for several weeks) that Paramount Pictures might need to change their plans.
John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human Resistance, sends his best friend Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) from the Terminator that Skynet has sent back in time to kill her and therefore eliminate John Connor from existence. But when Reese arrives to 1984 he finds a very different past than what he was expecting, where Sarah Connor is no longer a damsel in distress but a warrior who has been raised up by a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Together they will have to find a way to prevent Judgement Day from happening in the future.
In case you missed the previous films, Terminator: Genisys opens up with a voiceover by Kyle Reese explaining how the machines managed to conquer the world and practically eradicate the human race. It is the year 2029 and John Connor is the leader of the Resistance against Skynet, though Jason Clarke never comes across as the strong and charismatic warrior the character should be. Instead, he is quite creepy even at this point. After an attack to their base, Skynet sends a T-800 back to 1984 to kill John’s mother, Sarah Connor, to prevent him from ever being born and that way eliminate the Resistance. John Connor sends his right hand man, Kyle Reese, to protect her.
So Reese travels in time to find out that the past is not how he expected it to be and Sarah Connor is no longer the waitress that needs his protection and has been trained by a Terminator since she was a child. And, in a movie where none of the actors really pop up, Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor is the only one who comes close to do so. But, though she is supposed to be the protagonist of the story, the movie does such a poor job at focusing on her that it ends up actually being Kyle Reese’s story and, though I’ll admit Jai Courtney is not as bad as usual, his performance is still absolutely uncharismatic, which makes it hard to care for any of the two characters.
If you haven’t noticed yet, the time-travel in this film is awfully confusing. When Kyle Reese is traveling to 1984 he has some visions of an alternate timeline due to the fact that the past has been changed and somehow he figures out that Judgement Day will no longer happen in 1997 as it originally did, but in 2017 where the machines will take over the world through an app called Genisys. Sarah is not entirely convinced about that (and who can blame her) but Reese finally convinced her and even though it doesn’t make much sense, we go along with it too because the best way to see this movie is shutting down your mind. In 2017 we finally see Matt Smith again, in a role that is a waste of time for the Doctor. J.K Simmons is also wasted but the jaw-dropping moment comes with the John Connor twist which should have been the big revelation of the film, if the ad campaign hadn’t already gave it away in the trailers.
It seems I’m trashing a lot on the film when the reality is that I had some fun watching it. Yes, the time travel is a mess, it introduces ideas that are never developed, the acting is not that great and therefore it’s difficult to emotionally connect with the characters, but it is great to see back Arnold as the Terminator with a very self-referencing humour, the action sequences are cool and there is some level of intrigue that keeps you guessing. So even though Terminator: Genisys is far away from being a good movie and we are all waiting for the rights to go back to James Cameron, there is some joy to have with the film if you don’t try too hard to make sense of what is going on.