Arnold’s back, thankfully
– No fan of movies involving time-travel needs to be educated on pitfalls of their problematic construct. Just throw logic out the door in the spirit of fun and adventure and try to have a good time. But “Terminator: Genisys,” the fifth installment in the franchise, doesn’t just toss out common sense in its blitzkrieg of time-travel frenzy, it blows it to smithereens.
If you are new to this iconic group of films, which still heralds 1991’s “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” as one of the greatest action films of all time, you will be utterly lost—but you might still enjoy “Genisys.” For fans, the nostalgia factor cuts both ways, and “Genisys” is the least coherent film of the five, but takes storylines directly from the previous films and wisely utilizes the franchise’s best feature – Ah-nold himself – in all the right ways to make the film entertaining if not entirely satisfying.
Detailed plot analysis has never been a feature of this column, figuring most readers aren’t reading to become educated but persuaded – one way or another—to see a film. The dizzying setup of “Genisys” demands less explanation rather than more. It’s 2029 and Skynet, which destroyed most of the world, is about to be defeated by the Resistance, led by John Connor (Jason Clarke). But Skynet counters by sending a T-800 cyborg to kill John’s mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke), so Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is also sent back to protect her. Setting early scenes in 1984 (the year of the original “Terminator’s” release) is fun, and seeing the first Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) rejuvenated then appropriately aged—“old but not obsolete”—as the film bounces around through at least five eras is diverting enough.
Director Alan Taylor (“Thor: The Dark World”) and crew expertly deploy the action sequences with improved technology, but they feel more like truncated highlights rather than the marvelously orchestrated, extended scenes that director James Cameron made famous. Attempts at character development are always appreciated, so while the best performance in this film (J.K. Simmons’ Detective O’Brien) is under-utilized, nothing here is embarrassingly forgettable in the way of “Terminator: Salvation.”
There are two justifiable ways to see this film: Save your money until it comes out on disc or stream, or see it now but in IMAX 3D—the best way to overlook the film’s flaws and appreciate its visual strengths. Just try not to get dizzy making sense of it all.
Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and gunplay throughout, partial nudity and brief strong language).