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Review: Terminator Salvation (2009)

Terminator Salvation (2009)

Directed by: McG

Premise: The fourth film in the Terminator franchise. Set in 2018, resistance leader John Connor (Christian Bale) encounters a new Terminator model that is a combination of biological and mechanical parts as the resistance leadership plans a major assault on Skynet.

What Works: Terminator Salvation has a lot of moments recalling previous entries in the series and those references should resonate with the fans of this series. There is plenty of action and most of the special effects look great.

What Doesn’t: Terminator Salvation is an ill-conceived sequel. The main problem with Terminator Salvation is that the film does not do much with its characters, with its own story, or with the ongoing story of the series. John Connor and the rest of the cast are essentially the same characters at the end of the film that they are at the beginning. No one grows the way Sarah Connor did in the original Terminator film or the way that John Connor grew in the two previous sequels. There is no emotional rise and fall here, just action sequences interrupted by moments of brooding. Where previous Terminator films took considerable risks both in their storytelling and in what they brought to the visual medium, Terminator Salvation just goes through a lot of the motions of other sci-fi action films. Aside of its story problems, the casting is questionable. Christian Bale is a good actor but his large, quarterback-like presence is inconsistent with the character of John Connor, who was a scrawny outsider in previous films. Sam Worthington co-stars as the new Terminator model, and Worthington does not do much with his underwritten role.

Bottom Line: Up until now, the most notable traits of the Terminator series have been its willingness to take risks and deliver stories that were thought provoking and entertaining. Terminator Salvation is conventional where it should be revolutionary and bland when it should be stirring.

Episode: #240 (May 24, 2009)