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Terminator: Genisys

Terminator: Genisys

Released 2 July 2015
Director Alan Taylor

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Timmons, Matt Smith
Writer(s) Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier
Producer(s) David Ellison, Dana Goldberg
Origin United States
Running Time 125 minutes
Genre Action, adventure, sci-fi
Rating 12A

Built in obsolescence.

I’m sure at some stage in the future a real-life Doc Brown will get his act together and throw a flux capacitor inside a Prius but until then we’ll have to rely on cinema to be our own ersatz time machine. Ok, so saying that it allows us to spend a couple of hours in a time that is not our own may be pushing it but in a very practical way, film can be used to erase its own past mistakes and create new timelines. Terminator: Genisys attempts to do just that by casually glossing over the critically mauled Rise of the Machines (2003) and Salvation (2009). As if those pesky disasters never existed, Terminator: Genisys becomes the third film in the franchise, mangling timelines in a way that would make Sarah Connor proud.

Speaking of the Connor family, they are all present and correct - Sarah is played by Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke is her revolutionary son John and Jai Courtney is time travelling baby daddy Kyle Reese. We begin (again) with Kyle being sent back from the war-ravaged future to protect Sarah in 1984. In this version of events however, Sarah is already well aware of her place in history and is a gun toting warrior, accompanied by an "old but not obsolete" Terminator that she calls Pops (Arnold Schwarzenegger, making good on his promise to be back). The trio band together to take down Skynet before it ever launches while evading attacks from various models of Terminator.

The film has received vociferous approval from James Cameron and it’s not difficult to see why; this is a machine that runs on nostalgia. By deploying faithful recreations of  scenes and peppering the film with countless in-jokes and campy references, director Alan Taylor creates a link back to 1991 that will have fans grinning from ear to ear. Beyond that though, things are less pleasing. Genisys ties itself up in knots, not only in its weaving timelines but also in its tone. By relying heavily on nostalgia and affection, any sense of real threat is lost. Scenes of mass destruction are oddly underwhelming and many of the action sequences have that floaty, video-game look to them. The villains are also a little lacklustre. While Byung-hun Lee does a great job as a shape-shifting T-1000, he doesn’t have the menacing presence of Robert Patrick. Then of course, there is the fact that the looming threat that must be destroyed is a mobile phone app...

Terminator: Genisys is a strange film. If you have followed the franchise thus far, there is a lot of warm fuzzy nostalgia to wallow in as Arnie lumbers through his greatest hits. As a modern action film however, the film lacks grit and danger.

- Linda O’Brien