Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation

*1/2

 

While they are all perfectly decent action movies, I am not a huge fan of any of the first three Terminator films.

The problem isn’t Arnold; he’s terrific. The fatal flaw to me is the character of John Connor.

In order to take all of the machine warfare and time travel nonsense seriously, it is essential for us to believe that John Connor is the post-apocalyptic hero of the human race – destined to lead us to victory over the evil, brilliant master-computer Skynet.

The problem is: the John Connors I was seeing on screen did not seem like they’re up to the task. John Connor in “Terminator 3” is a bonehead. John Connor in “Terminator 2” is a whiney wuss. John Connor in “Terminator” is an ovum.

The reason I wanted to watch “Terminator Salvation” is that I thought I would finally see a cool version of John Connor: a smart tough guy who really is capable of saving humanity.

Christian Bale is a superb Batman. He seemed like the perfect actor to transform John Connor into a genuine hero that we can believe in and cheer for.

No such luck. “Terminator Salvation” does not develop the character of John Connor any more than the first three pictures. It doesn’t offer any substance at all, actually. I guess I was a fool for thinking that a movie directed by a guy named McG could be any good.

The story begins in 2018, after nuclear war has annihilated most of mankind and the hearty few that remain are at war with the machines. As promised in the earlier Terminator movies, earth’s machines somehow developed consciousness and now view the human race as a threat to their existence.
It’s a fight to the “death,” and John Connor is the leader of the resistance. It is prophesized that only he can lead humanity to victory.

He isn’t a very inspiring savior, though. Christian Bale’s John Connor is nothing more than a humorless, snarling soldier. Why so angry, John? Is it because James Cameron broke up with your mom?

The most confounding question for me is why people would want to make a Terminator movie if they have no interest in developing the primary themes of the saga.

The other reason I wanted to see “Terminator Salvation” is that I assumed that the film would explore the philosophical ramifications of a war between man and machine.

What happens when the computers that we make become so advanced that they have motivations of their own and the decision-making skills to achieve their goals? How do we define and protect our humanity in a world run by machines that are just like us?

The film doesn’t even try to answer these questions. So, that said: what inspired McG (“Charlie’s Angels”) to want to direct a Terminator movie? Why didn’t he go and ruin another sci-fi franchise instead?

To be fair, “Terminator Salvation” is a perfectly entertaining action flick. But, boy, is it dumb, humorless, and pointless. It’s clearly the worst Terminator picture to date.

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