John Connor (Jason Clarke, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes") and Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney, "A Good Day to Die Hard," "Insurgent") believe Skynet's finally been vanquished in 2029, but the machines had a backup plan, a T-800 sent back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke, HBO's 'Game of Thrones'). Kyle follows and is surprised to learn it is Sarah who will be saving him in "Terminator Genisys."
There's really only one reason to see "Terminator Genisys" and you probably know what that is - the return of Ahnuld, the Governator, now the Guardian who is 'old but not obsolete,' his human exterior aging as he skips across time with the young woman he was sent to protect. Screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis ("Shutter Island") and Patrick Lussier ("Drive Angry") try to pump new life into the franchise using the old 'alternate timeline' trick, one which switches the genesis of Skynet from 1997 to 2017, but that just leaves us wondering what happened to the folks in the other one when we're not overtaxed trying to keep up with what's going on.
It would help if the newly recast John Connor and Kyle Reese were heroes worth caring about but both give wooden performances, unexpected in Clarke's case (granted, his character is saddled with an unwise twist), expected in Courtney's. Oddly, Emilia Clarke almost resembles Linda Hamilton, as if she hadn't grown out of her baby fat, but her performance is less gritty, more innocent despite her rejiggered background. J.K. Simmons ("Whiplash") adds some comic relief as O'Brien, a cop who tangles with the gang in 1984, his ravings ever since having made him a department joke by 2017. There is also Arnold 2.0, a recreation of his younger self that, while not entirely convincing, is pretty damned impressive nonetheless, especially as it means we get some Arnie on Arnie action.
But director Alan Taylor ("Thor: The Dark World") doesn't bring any new real oomph to the equation, recycling images from Cameron's superior first two pictures, like the liquid metal T-1000, now disguised as a cop and played by Byung-hun Lee ("I Saw the Devil"). The action jumps between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the latter of which sees far more devastation than anything served up in "San Andreas." The 2017 set third act, where Sarah and Kyle must defeat Cyberdyne's plans to release the Genisys app, Skynet's Trojan Horse, is curiously under plotted, the heroes lacking any plan other than brute force (and just what software company massive enough to have its own waterfront campus would be completely devoid of staff only thirteen hours away from a major platform release?).
Of course Schwarzenegger delivers his most famous line, but if he's going to be back maybe he should consider switching franchises for The Addams Family's Lurch - he's got that awkward smile down pat.
Robin did not see this film.
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