It’s becoming increasingly clear that the only thing worse than a needless Hollywood reboot is a needless Hollywood reboot done for contractual reasons. With the Terminator film rights set to revert to James Cameron in 2019, it’s time to milk that cash cow and Paramount and Skydance Productions have brought us Terminator Genisys, a film almost as messy as it’s spelling.
Genisys takes us back to where this whole shebang began by starting with Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) being sent back in time by John Conner (Jason Clarke) to protect his mother, Sarah Conner (Emilia Clarke), from a T-800 terminator. However, in this timeline his return doesn’t go according to plan and what he discovers is an alternate past where Conner has been raised by Pops, a T-800 who was sent back earlier by… well just don’t ask questions okay!
This turns out opening hour into a dodgy remake of the first two films. Some of the shots even look like they have just been plucked straight out of them. It also features one of the best things about the film, young Arnie. The effects that have gone in to recreating a young Schwarzenegger are genuinely very impressive and it stands up even when coming face to face with his older counterpart.
That’s kind of it when it comes to good stuff however, as from there on out Genisys seems determined to do as much as possible with as little explanation. The constant harking back to both The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day does the film zero favours, as it just reminds you that you could be watching those instead. The plot has more holes than your most holy of priests and yet that isn’t even the worst of its problems.
Because its biggest problem is it just doesn’t work. Emilia Clarke is not Sarah Conner and Jai Courtney is most definitely not Kyle Reese. These characters were such an essential part of what made that first film work, because you just understood them and both of these actors fail to do that. Clarke looks far too young and innocent to be playing the supposedly battle hardened Conner, while Courtney completely fails to capture the desperation of Reese. Instead he’s a six packed action hero. They’ve taken a great character and stripped him of everything that made him great. It’s not that these two can’t act, it’s just that they are horribly miscast.
Arnie does his best to save the situation and as you’d expect when he is doing his Terminator thing he is still damn good. The guy may look a bit older, but he is still an intimidating presence and everything he does has a real weight behind it. Sadly, someone somewhere down the line has forgotten what made him that presence in the first place. While the first two films have him keep his mouth shut for long periods, this one goes the other way. Giving him long sections of dialogue in which he is required to give exposition that a man of Arnie’s talents should not be given. Throw in the fact that there is no explanation as to why his character knows this stuff and it is even more baffling.
Of course anyone who has seen the trailer for this film knows the big twist, but I shan’t mention it anyway. Needless to say it doesn’t really work and leads to some truly cringe worthy dialogue. While people attending to see how former Doctor Matt Smith is getting on really shouldn’t bother, as he is in this film for all of two minutes. There are some fun action scenes, although did they really need to set one on the Golden Gate Bridge? Have they not seen every other movie that has come out in the last few years? And when it gets moving it chips along at a fair pace. The problem is it keeps stopping to allow badly drawn characters to discuss barely there plots.
Genisys is just bad, it’s as simple as that. It’s a movie put together in order to try to reboot a franchise that now just needs to be left alone. The original Terminator films were smart and clever action films that at times, particularly in the first, took as much influence from horror as they did anything else. Terminator Genisys is at best a dumb action film, but ultimately fails to even reach those heady heights. Instead we are left with what feels like a cynical cash grab and one that doesn’t even manage to be entertaining.