What year is it? Who’s aware of Skynet? Is it still called Skynet?! Just some of the questions that were flying through my head as I dove head first into the new Ahhnold action flick Terminator Genisys. Initially I thought the film was going to be a straight remake. The movie opens with John Connor leading a resistance army against the Skynet mainframe in an attempt to destroy to the sentient machines once and for all. Having acknowledged its potential impending destruction, Skynet activates a time machine and sends a brand new T-800 (that’s young Arnold) back in time to murder Sarah Connor in an attempt to prevent the birth of John. John’s right hand man Kyle Reese promptly volunteers to follow suit and protect Sarah. This is essentially how the first Terminator film begins and as such I thought we were getting a remake.
However, because there has been so much time traveling over the course of the franchise, the film took an interesting route. The space time continuum is so altered, that when Reese returns to the 1980’s to save Sarah she is already aware of Skynet and is waiting with an aging T-800 (current, post Governator Arnold) at her side as a reprogrammed bodyguard. The three then have to decide how best to take out Skynet in the past (or the future?) whilst interpreting alternate time line visions in Reese’s dreams and running from a T-1000 (liquid metal baddie from T2). More advance Terminator models later join the pursuit culminating in an interesting twist.
Overall, I felt the film was very successful. I was skeptical that Arnold was going to feel out of place and overly campy and yet he pulled off his role incredibly well. Treating him as an aging T-800 was a brilliant ploy and fit nicely with the rest of the cast of characters. Additionally, the film truly hearkened back to the originals which is something Terminator 3 and Terminator: Rise of the Machines failed to do. As such, those last two felt more like stand-alone films and less a continuation of the Terminator timeline. Jai Courtney’s rendition of Kyle Reese was fine but took a back seat to Swartzenegger and Emilia Clarke’s Sarah Connor. Clarke was a pleasant surprise as I felt her role as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones would be hard overlook despite her change in hair color. But she was a totally believable Sarah Connor. In the end, the film was a nice return to form and saw many aspects acting as homages to the original 1980’s classics. While there are obvious questions, like why the machines would send back an easily destroyed T-800 to kill Connor when significantly more advanced units are available, the film should be taken for what it is: an classic style action flick with Arnold Swartzenegger kicking ass and taking names…and some other stuff thrown in there too. With an open ending courtesy of a surprise mid credit scene (wait for it!) it is safe to say that this franchise….will be back.